AVONDALE, Ariz.—NASCAR sent a message to drivers on Saturday morning: If a competitor monkeys with the integrity of the sport and then runs his or her mouth following the indiscretion, there will be consequences.
Bubba Wallace found out the hard way following a video admission of guilt to NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long Friday night. Wallace spun out on Lap 242 at Texas Motor Speedway when he had a tire going flat during the AAA Texas 500.
NASCAR hit Wallace with a $50,000 fine and 50-point penalty.
“I’m not the only one to do it,” Wallace told NBCSports. “I’m racing for myself. Not for Larson. Not for Chevrolet at that moment. For myself and going multiple laps down.”
The sanctioning body busted the driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team citing Sections 12.1.a General Procedures; NASCAR Member Conduct; 12.8.1 Member Conduct Guidelines; 10.8 In-Race Violations.
The team sent out a statement after the penalty was announced.
"Our team met with NASCAR officials this morning to discuss Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.'s post-practice comments on Friday, November 8, concerning an on-track incident which occurred at the Texas Motor Speedway," Philippe Lopez, Richard Petty Motorsports director of competition said. "We fully understand NASCAR's position and expectations of its competitors. NASCAR has a difficult job officiating race events and we do not need to make the task more challenging. Wallace will not appeal the penalty, and will direct his immediate focus to this weekend's event at the ISM Raceway.”
In Wallace’s defense, he’s not the first driver to intentionally trigger a caution. Several competitors—including Kyle Larson, who was the loudest accuser of Wallace’s Texas spin—acknowledged past transgressions as well. Competitors also pointed to Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer’s errant spins at Martinsville Speedway. But neither Logano or Bowyer made a public admission of guilt after the fact.
Prior to qualifying at ISM Raceway on Saturday, Wallace said the penalty would have no affect on him at all—including the $50,000.
“Indy paid well,” Wallace said. "We're still a bunch of nutcases that like to have a lot of fun on and off the race track. We’ll go out and do our best.”
Will the penalty deter Wallace from spinning in the future should he incur a flat?
"The only one that can make that call is me driving when you have a flat tire,” Wallace added. “It's pretty tough to hang on to."
Scott Miller, Senior Vice President of Competition, addressed the situation at ISM Raceway on Saturday.
“The reaction today was after a complete admission of guilt,” Miller said. “That’s really what led to the penalty happening today.”
Miller added he hopes the penalty serves as a deterrent. He said NASCAR does have the ability to react monetarily and points-wise when deemed appropriate.
“All we can do is wait and watch and see how we need to react next,” Miller said. “Hopefully, we don’t. Hopefully, it cleans itself up.
“Here’s the deal: it’s not very straightforward to determine whether that is done on purpose. We’ve all watched the cars drive down the straightaway with a flat tire, weaving all over the place. For us to make a definitive call that a guy spun out on purpose when he can barely keep his car straight is a big call—and it’s a judgment call and it’s a call we would like to not have to be able to make.
“Hopefully, they can know that the possibility of this happening is out there if it’s very blatant and don’t do it.”