Bubba Wallace returned to NASCAR competition on Saturday and said last week’s one-race suspension was tough, but he agrees the penalty was warranted.
Going forward, however, Wallace wants NASCAR to be consistent in officiating.
Wallace was suspended for a week under NASCAR’s behavioral policy for intentionally destroying Kyle Larson, stepping on a live track and then attempting to fight the defending Cup champion. He missed last week’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway – which was won by Larson – and will return in Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
“Hey, I’m okay with being the example if we can keep moving forward consistently because it’s happened many times this year and it’s something that can keep happening, you know, for other drivers on the road.” Wallace said he told senior NASCAR officials. “I’ve definitely learned my lesson, but we have to be consistent with that whether it’s here in Martinsville or whether it’s Daytona or Talladega.”
Wallace called his discussion with NASCAR “good conversation” and said he regretted putting himself, 23XI Racing and its sponsors in a bad light.
“You have to think before you do. In this sport, it’s the fire of the action that hits you,” he said. “Seeing that and going back and looking at a view from 10,000 feet, definitely could have handled it all differently and been in a different place.”
Retaliation has been an ongoing issue across NASCAR’s three National Series this season, with drivers seeking revenge on the track or after physical confrontations. Wallace’s deliberate hook on Larson was seen by most of his rivals as dangerous and beyond the line.
Wallace also pushed Larson several times after they fell.
Fellow Toyota driver Christopher Bell was among the victims of Wallace’s retaliation, putting him last of seven drivers battling for the remaining three spots in next weekend’s championship finale at Phoenix Raceway.
Wallace expects business as usual when the green flag drops and has made amends with Larson.
“I’m not coming back with a vengeance or anything like that,” he said. “I’m just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing. And for the record, I spoke to Larson and we had a great conversation this week. I think the best thing for us is that we both figured out where our frustrations were and how to move forward and how we can both handle those situations better.
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