Park Bubba Wallace, but NASCAR created this mess

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 16: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, and Bubba Wallace, driver of the #45 McDonald's Toyota, spin after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Bubba Wallace spinning Kyle Larson was a mess of NASCAR’s own creation, and nothing will change, until the league does.

Bubba Wallace stood outside the care center, as NBC’s Marty Snider asked him if what just happened on track was intentional.

“Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) is smart enough to know how easy these cars break. When you get shoved into the fence, deliberately, like (Kyle Larson) did, trying to force me to lift — the steering was gone, and he just so happened to be there.”

Translation, it was intentional. The incident on track, between the drivers in the in-field, and what will transpire in the days to come is a mess of NASCAR’s own creation.

The Incident

Shortly after the start of the second stage, Larson got loose and forced Wallace into the Turn 4 wall. In the heat of the moment, Wallace turned sharply down the track and hooked Larson into the frontstretch wall. Which collected Christopher Bell in the process.

It was textbook retaliation that Larson saw coming. “He had a reason to be mad, but his race wasn’t over until he retaliated,” Larson said. “It is what it is. Just aggression turned into frustration and he retaliated.”

But it didn’t stop there.

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The Shove

A few minutes later, Wallace exited his car, walked over to Larson in the grass, and shoved him a few times. He told Snider that Larson knows what message he sent.

“He knows what he did was wrong,” Wallace said. “He wanted to question what I was doing and he never cleared me.”

Point the finger at NASCAR

Call out Wallace for what he did. Provided you’re not using it as an excuse for racist dogwhistling. He should be suspended for the next race. But rather than focus on the symptoms of the issue, look at the cause.

What transpired at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday is a by-product of NASCAR’s “boys, have at it” attitude. Which ranges from laughable punishments to drivers for doing so (if at all) to using footage of those incidents to promote upcoming events.

We saw it a decade ago when Jeff Gordon took out Clint Bowyer at Phoenix Raceway. An incident for which Gordon escaped without sufficient punishment. He was fined $100,000 and docked 25 points, but since he was already out of the championship fight it was basically a slap on the wrist.

We saw it with Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano over the course of three races in 2015. We even saw it earlier this season at Gateway, with Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain acting like children. And will keep happening, until NASCAR clarifies the “boys, have at it” stance or does away with it.

But the cynical pessimist in me thinks nothing will change and Wallace just gets fined for this. Fitting for what a clown show this year’s playoffs have turned into.

Featured Image Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images