AVONDALE, Ariz. — In the first two races of the Round of 8, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has faced two controversial spins by Joey Logano and Bubba Wallace. Logano has dodged the question about the spin, but Wallace opened up this weekend about his spin at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Until they do anything, no,” Wallace said to NBC Sports reporter Dustin Long in response about any potential repercussions. “I’m not the only one to do it. I’m racing for myself. Not for Larson. Not for Chevrolet at that moment. For myself and going multiple laps down.”
So, NASCAR did something. Saturday morning, they announced a 50 point penalty and a $50,000 fine on the Richard Petty Motorsports driver.
During a green-flag pit cycle, Wallace’s car had a flat tire. NASCAR elected to keep the race green in hopes for no debris and that the No. 43 Ford Mustang could safely make it back to pit road for service. Wallace spun in Turn 2, which forced NASCAR to bring out the caution. While that kept Wallace on the lead lap, it also affected Playoff drivers. Kyle Larson was very open about his displeasure.
“Sometimes you end up on the right side of it and whatnot,” Larson said. “But last week, we didn’t so obviously that’s why I was upset. We all have done it; I’ve done it. I got penalized a lap and still was able to recover and win. We’ve all done it, but it can affect the race.”
And affect the race it did. Larson was in a position for a strong finish as he was running in the top five at the time. He lost track position on the untimely yellow and finished 12th last weekend at Texas. Although Larson gained more points than the next six drivers ahead of him, he looks at it as a missed opportunity for his team.
He also felt it was an opportunity for NASCAR to research data for throttle manipulation.
“We looked at Bubba’s data the next day,” Larson shared. “You could definitely see because we have SMT where you have the digital car, you could see him like swerving, he turns right and at the same time he turns left and stabs the throttle and spins out. It’s whatever at this point.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, met with media on Saturday morning at ISM Raceway to discuss the infraction.
“If we feel like it’s on purpose and we have enough information to determine that 100% it’s on purpose, we will react,” Miller said. “The reaction today was after a complete admission of guilt, so that’s really what led to the penalty happening today. That was a full admission of something that has been abuzz in the garage and the media. (A warning instead of a penalty) wasn’t an option.”
With this penalty and how it was assessed, NASCAR has sent a clear message to all drivers across all three series.
“Just keep your mouth shut.”
That’s what Dale Jarrett said on the air during NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying, and explained that if a driver is in a situation where they may go a lap down to simply spin out in a way to cause a caution and never admit guilt.
NASCAR did meet with drivers to remind them of the Playoffs, clean racing and a “good show for the fans.”
Richard Petty Motorsports will not appeal the decision by NASCAR.