NASCAR has made its decision following Sunday’s incident between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson, suspending Bubba for one race. On lap 94 of Sunday’s race at Las Vegas, Larson drove aggressively into a corner and collided with Bubba sending Bubba into the wall. Bubba then drove his car directly into Larson’s right rear turning both cars back into the wall and collecting Christopher Bell.
NASCAR cited Sections 4.3.A and 4.4.C & E of its Member Code of Conduct for the suspension. If you read my article taking an in-depth look at the incident, I said I thought both Larson and Bubba should be punished, but neither should be suspended. I stand by that opinion, but I also have no issue with Bubba being suspended. Bubba’s actions were retaliatory, and NASCAR has ever right to suspend him. Unfortunately, NASCAR had already painted themselves into a no-win situation no matter what decision they made here.
NASCAR REMAINS INCONSISTENT
There are have been a few retaliatory incidents that have taken place in NASCAR series this year that haven’t resulted in suspensions. William Byron hit Denny Hamlin under yellow at Texas causing Hamlin to spin. Byron denies trying to wreck Hamlin but admits to intentionally bumping him. Back in July, Noah Gragson intentionally spun Sage Karam at Road America leading to a 13 car crash. Neither Gragson nor Byron was suspended.
However, as a NASCAR fan for the past 27 years, I can point to several incidents of drivers being parked for a race after retaliatory actions. The most egregious was a 2011 incident during a truck series race in Texas. Kyle Busch ran Ron Hornaday down under caution and put him in the wall. Busch was suspended for the rest of the weekend missing out on the then-Nationwide and Cup Series races. Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth have also been suspended for retaliatory actions on the track. NASCAR’s inconsistency gives anyone unhappy with the punishment ammunition for their argument, no matter what decision was made.
BUBBA APOLOGIZES… KIND OF
On Monday, Bubba issued an apology on his social media pages issuing an apology of sorts. He apologized to NASCAR, Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs, the fans, and Toyota. Noticeably absent from his apology was Kyle Larson, the man he wrecked and challenged to a fight. I don’t know if that half-hearted apology helped or hurt his standing when it comes to his punishment, but I know I, personally, would lean to a harsher punishment after reading it.
No matter what happens the rest of the season, I think every NASCAR fan can agree some changes are necessary. They need to put in a set penalty structure for incidents. Drivers need to know how close they are to a suspension. Having that in their heads will, hopefully, lead to better decision making on the track. Right now, the decisions seem to be a bit arbitrary, but that needs to change. I hope NASCAR’s competition committee, or whatever it’s called, approves a set standard going forward.
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