NASCAR has suspended Bubba Wallace over his heated altercation with Kyle Larson at the Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The incident, which led to some baselessly accusing Wallace of “anti-Asian hate” because Larson is Japanese American, began at Stage 2 of the South Point 400 when the drivers ended up racing side-by-side after Larson’s Chevrolet attempted to make a three-wide pass and bumped Wallace’s Toyota into a wall.
Wallace, who won the previous stage, appeared to spin Larson out before they both crashed into the wall. He then got out of his Toyota to shove the reigning champion multiple times.
“He [Larson] knows what he did was wrong. He wanted to question what I was doing, and he never cleared me,” Wallace said after the race, according to the Associated Press.
In a news release on Tuesday, NASCAR announced that Wallace was suspended for one race for “intentionally wrecking or spinning” Larson’s car and shoving him. Both are violations of Sections 4.3.A and 4.4.C & E, respectively, of the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.
“Our actions are really specific to what took place on the race track,” NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM Speedway. “And when we look at how that incident occurred, in our minds, really a 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.”
O’Donnell stressed that the incident was thoroughly reviewed before they made the decision to suspend Wallace. Throughout its history, NASCAR has rarely suspended drivers.
“When we look at drivers historically, it’s been very rare if ever that we suspend drivers, so we don’t take that action lightly,” O’Donnell said. “So we view our penalties from what has to happen at the race track.”
“We’re confident in the decision we made and why we made it.”
“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,” Wallace wrote.
The 29-year-old also apologized to Christopher Bell, who was also taken out during the crash, as well as NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota and the fans.
“I compete with immense passion, and with passion at times comes frustration,” he added. “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.”