Bubba Wallace addressed the media following his one race suspension that was doled out after he intentionally wrecked Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
During the race at Las Vegas, Kyle Larson went three-wide underneath Kevin Harvick and Wallace. Harvick quickly backed out of it and allowed Larson and Wallace to race through the corner. Driving through the corner, Larson began chasing his car up the track squeezing Wallace.
However, Larson never made contact with Wallace and Wallace rammed himself into the wall coming off the corner. He then bounced off the wall and made slight contact with Larson.
Larson dove to the bottom of the track to avoid Wallace, but Wallace chased after him and hit him in the right rear quarter panel sending him spinning up the track and into Christopher Bell and the outside wall.
Wallace ended up wrecking too with the nose of his car crunching into the outside wall.
Wallace then proceeded to try and provoke a fight with Kyle Larson all the while ignoring instructions from NASCAR officials that were attempting to take him to the infield care center.
Wallace eventually made his way across the pit road and into his pit stall where he fist bumped his pit crew.
Following his actions, he claimed the car’s steering broke.
Wallace told NBC Sports, “Cliff’s smart enough to know how easy these cars break so when you get shoved into the fence, deliberately like he did, trying to force me to lift, steering was gone. Just so happened to be there.”
“Hate it. Hate it for our team. Fast, super fast car. Had no short run speed. As you were seeing, we were kind of falling there. Larson wanted to make a three-wide dive bomb, never cleared me. I don’t lift so I know I’m kind of new to running up front, but I don’t lift. Wasn’t even a spot to lift and he never lifted either and now we’re junk. Just a piss poor move on his execution,” Wallace added.
Wallace or at least one of his PR handlers would issue an apology via social media.
The statement begins, “I want to apologize for my actions on Sunday following the on-track incident with Kyle Larson and the No. 5 car. My behavior does not align with the core values that are shared by 23XI Racing and our partners, who have played a crucial role in my incredible journey to the top of this great sport.”
He continued, “I want to apologize to NASCAR and the fans, along with Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Toyota for putting them in a situation in the Playoffs that they do not deserve. I compete with immense passion, and with passion at times comes frustration.”
“Upon reflecting, I should have represented our partners and core team values better than I did by letting my frustrations follow me outside of the car. You live and learn, and I intend to learn from this,” Wallace concluded.
NASCAR would issue a one-race suspension that was served at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Wallace was replaced by John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota Camry.
NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell explained the suspension on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, “Our actions are really specific to what took place on the racetrack. And when we look at how that incident occurred, in our minds, a really dangerous act. We thought that was intentional and put other competitors at risk. And as we look at the sport and where we are today and where we want to draw that line going forward, we thought that definitely crossed the line and that’s what we focused on in terms of making this call.”
💭 “When we look at this incident, you’re not only endangering one, but there’s a lot of cars out there at speed…”
Wallace addressed the media and when asked if he thought the penalty was fair, he responded, “I totally accepted the penalty and the repercussions that came from my actions. I talked to O’Donnell and I talked to Phelps and I said, ‘Hey, I’m good with being the example if we can keep this consistent moving forward.’
He continued, “Because it’s happened multiple times this year and tat’s something that may continue to happen for other drivers down the road. I’ve definitely learned my lesson, but we have to be consistent with this no matter if it’s here at Martinsville or if it’s at Daytona or Talladega. We got to keep it consistent across all the boards and all the series.”
When asked what he learned, Wallace said, “It was tough. I mean sitting there watching that. I tweeted out humble pie. I hated not being in that race and knew we were excited. That was one of those races that was circled on the schedule, right? Our Toyotas have been really strong at the mile and a half stuff. Really love running Homestead so I was bummed; legit bummed that I wasn’t racing. But I had to put that aside and still help the team go out and grow and continue to gain speed with those two drivers.”
“What have I learned? I got to think before you do and in this sport it’s the heat of the moment type things that get to you,” Wallace detailed. “So seeing that, going back and looking from a 10,000 foot view, definitely could have handled everything way different and been in a different spot.”
“I put myself in a bad light. I put our team in a bad light, our sponsors. It’s just something that I’m not proud of, but moving on and moving forward. Not allowed to make that mistake again,” he elaborated.
When pressed on what kind of internal punishment 23XI Racing might have doled out, Wallace said, “Just mad at me, which is fine. Just have to go out and get back on the horse and go out and compete and I think we have a really good shot for this weekend at moving forward and just getting this all behind us.”
He then provided some more details when asked about his conversations with team owners Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan, “They were understanding of the heat of the moment type things, but they were very intimate on how to handle those five second later. You need to think, like I said earlier, think before you do. And that was the biggest thing. They still support me and we’re here and we just got to go out and continue to build this team up.”
He closed out the discussion revealing he did talk with Kyle Larson saying, “For the record, I have talked to Larson. We had a great conversation with this week. I think the best thing for us is we both understood where our frustrations were and moving forward and how we both can handle those situations better.”
Wallace starts 24th for the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.