After a one-week suspension following his intentional retaliation against Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bubba Wallace is set to return to the track for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
For race car drivers, there are a lot of things that are upsetting about being out of the race car, but Bubba Wallace says not being a part of his team at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend really cut deep.
“Not being a part of your team,” Wallace responded when asked what was the toughest part of the suspension. “It’s unfortunate, but I tried to play a different part of the team than I was, from a driving aspect of being there for the race and [instead] helping John Hunter try to get the feel he needed for practice and the race.”
Additionally, Wallace felt his No. 45 23XI Racing car could have been up near the front competing for the win at Homestead had he not let his emotions get the best of him at Las Vegas.
“I hated not being in that race. I knew we were — that was one of those races that was circled on the schedule,” Wallace explained. “Toyotas have been really strong on mile-and-a-halfs and I really love running Homestead. So, I was bummed that I wasn’t racing. But I had to put that aside and still help the team go out on the road and have the speed with those two drivers.”
While the penalty was the first suspension for an on-track incident of a NASCAR Cup Series driver in nearly seven years, Wallace says he feels NASCAR made the right call. Wallace just hopes this becomes the new standard for intentional retaliation in the sport going forward.
“I totally accept the penalties and the repercussions that came with my actions,” Wallace said. “I talked to [Steve] O’Donnell and I talked to [Steve] Phelps and I said, ‘Hey, I’m good with being the example.’ Because if we could keep this consistent moving forward, it’s happened multiple times this year, and it’s something that may still continue to happen for other drivers down the road. I’ve definitely learned my lesson, but you have to be consistent no matter if it’s here at Martinsville or at Daytona and Talladega you gotta keep it consistent across all boards, all series.”
At the end of the day, Wallace says he has learned his lesson following the one-race suspension, which was handed down from NASCAR and next time, he’ll definitely think before he lashes out at another driver on the track.
“What have I learned? I learned to think before you do,” Wallace stated.