There was plenty of poking and paint-trading during NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, not the least of which featured oft-polarizing driver Bubba Wallace. However, several other prominent stars decided to get in on the shenanigans as well.
The first situation involves Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin. Coming off Turn 4, Elliott rubbed the wall while racing next to Hamlin. Elliott felt the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 car was illegally and dangerously pushing the limits. That prompted him to retaliate by intentionally making contact with Hamlin.
Following the race, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, Elton Sawyer, announced the governing body would suspend Elliott for this weekend’s Enjoy Illinois 300. They ruled that the driver of the no. 9 Chevy jeopardized the safety of himself and his fellow drivers by intentionally causing the crash.
“It was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion, in our view after reviewing all of the available resources,” Sawyer said.
💭 “After looking at all the available resources […] it was an intentional act by Chase.”
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) May 30, 2023
In the meantime, Bubba Wallace and Aric Almirola also had some beef on Monday, as they faced off during a rain delay. After Wallace made an obscene gesture towards Almirola, the two squared off while under a red flag. No punches were thrown, but there was some minor physical contact between the two. At one point in a video of the incident, Almirola can see him poking his finger in his fellow driver’s chest.
NASCAR wasn’t the only one keeping a close eye on all this craziness. Former driver Kenny Wallace was watching closely, as well. Never afraid to share his opinion, the St. Louis native said on his YouTube podcast that the drivers needed to calm things down out on the pavement.
On a recent episode of The Kenny Wallace Show, he said that he wasn’t really surprised about Elliott’s punishment.
“NASCAR clearly said, ‘what got Chase Elliott in trouble was data. Showing the steering wheel turn, and also the in-car camera,'” Wallace said, before adding that a lot of issues have occurred with newer technology. He said the latest-model car that the circuit is now using makes for less room for error.
“Those (NextGen) cars are very hard to drive, and that’s why you’re seeing all the fighting and all the shoving,” Kenny Wallace commented. “These drivers are all over each other, and we love it. I think it’s great. I think it’s awesome. (But) That’s the reason we’re seeing all the fighting.”
Commenting on Bubba Wallace, Kenny (no relation) said that he’s reached out to the young driver and that he would like to get him on the show to discuss his controversial behavior. He commented that Wallace is “walking around with a chip on his shoulder”, and that it’s affecting his legacy in auto racing.
In what should have been the most important news of the day, third-generation star Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the first victory of 2023 for the Team Penske driver.
Blaney’s Coke 600 win comes just one day after Josef Newgarden won the Indy 500 for Team Penske.