AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Bubba Wallace was fined $50,000 by NASCAR for causing a caution last week at Texas that affected the race for at least one playoff driver.
Wallace was also docked 50 points in the driver standings after a Saturday morning meeting between Wallace, Richard Petty Motorsports officials and NASCAR at ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix.
“We fully understand NASCAR’s position and expectations of its competitors,” said RPM competition director Philippe Lopez. “NASCAR has a difficult job officiating race events and we do not need to make the task more challenging.”
The team said Wallace will not appeal.
His spin in last Sunday’s race was criticized by Kyle Larson as intentional and it brought out a caution for Wallace, who had a flat tire and needed to go to pit road and was attempting to minimize the impact to his race. But it changed the outcome of Larson’s race and dropped him into a deep hole before the final race to qualify for NASCAR’s championship round.
Larson said Friday his Chip Ganassi Racing team had pulled Wallace’s data to determine if it was truly deliberate and the findings convinced the team that Wallace spun on purpose.
“We looked at Bubba’s data and you can definitely see him swerving, he turns right and then at the same time he turns left and stabs the throttle and spins out. It’s whatever at this point,” Larson said.
Larson’s criticism brought the issue of deliberate cautions to the forefront during an intense competition for the two remaining positions in the final four.
“I think it should play out naturally. I’m all for whatever is natural, not messing around with the cautions and getting them when you need them,” Denny Hamlin said. “Our sport is so different than others when it comes to that. When someone in football fakes an injury and it slows the game down, or gets a time out, that’s not a game changer, right?
“However, a caution that is untimely for someone that has pitted versus someone who hasn’t is a complete game changer. You can’t fake things no matter what the sport, but the stakes are higher in NASCAR because you can really screw people over.”
Drivers had mixed opinions on if NASCAR should be forced to decide if a spin was deliberate or not.
“It’s hard to make a black and white rule on that when something is on purpose or one was an accident,” said reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano. “How do you really know? All sports deal with that. Think about soccer. Geez, you watch that and they’re flopping all day long out there.”
Logano had a flat tire two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia and spun to bring out a caution that saved his race. Although there was some questioning of Logano’s spin, he has said it was not deliberate and other drivers have said they believe his flat tire caused the spin.