NASCAR Xfinity Series
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Oct 16, 2022
Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson were involved in an on-track incident on Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, one that apparently resulted in retaliation and an infield scuffle, while also eliminating a championship chasing innocent bystander in Christopher Bell.
The incident took place on Lap 95 of the South Point 400 when Larson ran Wallace high up the track, forcing the former to make contact with the Turn 4 wall. Wallace turned left on the frontstretch and connected with the right rear of Larson, who spun directly into the path of Bell who had nowhere to go.
Both Wallace and Larson climbed out of their cars under caution, with Wallace marching towards Larson, and initiating physical contact with a series of shoves. Larson continually attempted to shrug Wallace off as the two were separated by safety workers.
Wallace suggested that the contact was not retaliatory in nature and that he lost steering after hitting the wall.
"Cliff (Daniels, Larson’s crew chief)) is smart enough to know how easy these cars break," Wallace told NBC Sports. "When you get shoved in the fence, deliberately like he did, trying to force me to lift – the steering was gone, and he just so happened to be there.
Wallace went on to suggest that the end result was inevitable given how Larson raced him.
"Larson wanted to make a three-wide divebomb. Never cleared me, and I don't lift," Wallace said. "I know I'm kind of new to running at the front, but I don't lift. I wasn't even in a spot to lift and he never lifted either, and now we're junk. Just piss-poor move on his execution.
"He knows that what he did was wrong. He wanted to question what I was doing. He never cleared me."
Larson accepted blame for the initial contact, and said he understood why Wallace would be upset, but said the decision to seemingly retaliate was especially wrong given the emerging safety concerns of the still new Next Gen car.
"He had a reason to be mad, but his race wasn't over until he retaliated," Larson told NBC Sports. "It is what it is. ... I think with everything that's been going on here lately with head injuries and all that, fractured ligaments and all that, I don't think it's probably the right thing to do.
"But hey, we've all done it -- maybe not all of us, but I have, I've let the emotions get the best of me before too. I know he's probably still upset, but I'm sure with everything going on he'll know that he made a mistake in the retaliation part. And I'm sure he'll think twice about it next time."
Bell, who only made the third round of the Cup Series playoffs with a victory last weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, was unable to get his car repaired and will finish 34th – right ahead of Larson and Bell.
It also will likely force Bell into a must-win scenario over the next two races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Martinsville Speedway to advance to the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.
"The good thing is I feel better about winning one of those two races than I did winning the ROVAL," Bell said. "We’ve just had really, really strong Camrys – really all year long. We will see if we can go pull another rabbit out of the hat."
Does Bell feel like Wallace should be suspended for his actions?
"I don’t know," Bell said. "Follow protocol of whatever they’ve (NASCAR) done in the past."
Does Wallace feel any remorse or regret for Bell, a fellow Toyota stablemate, for getting caught up in his incident?
"Sports," Wallace said.