“Until they do anything, no. I’m not the only one to do it.”
This was Bubba Wallace’s response when asked if he was worried about NASCAR cracking down on him for his intentional spin at Texas Motor Speedway, which brought on a caution during the November 3rd race. In the end, the auto racing sanctioning body called Wallace’s bluff, fining the driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsports $50,000 and docking him 50 driver points on Saturday, November 9 — a day after his admission to an NBC Sports reporter via phone video recording.
Kyle Larson led the initial charge against Wallace for his intentional spin, which Wallace did to avoid losing multiple laps for a flat tire. It was a move that changed that outcome of the race and ultimately affected the Larson’s place in the playoff standings.
Following the controversial Wallace spin, Larson came forward, citing data gathered by Chip Ganassi Racing that allegedly proved that Wallace’s actions were a deliberate attempt to influence the race.
“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.
While Larson’s criticism and the data alluded to in his earlier comments were not enough to sway NASCAR, Wallace’s “complete admission of guilt” is what eventually led to NASCAR’s judgment call.
“We fully understand NASCAR’s position and expectations of its competitors,” RPM competition director Philippe Lopez said. “NASCAR has a difficult job officiating race events and we do not need to make the task more challenging.”
This isn’t the first time that something akin to the Wallace situation has come up, as intentional spins have been a serious issue in the NASCAR Cup Series for several years. Recently, Joey Logano’s move at the October 27th Martinsville race raised suspicions, though he claimed a flat tire caused him to legitimately spin.
More famously, Clint Bowyer’s spin in 2014, which led to a caution that eventually allowed his then-teammate Martin Truex Jr. to make the playoffs, is often looked back on as one of NASCAR’s biggest cheating scandals in recent memory. This caused somewhat of a chain reaction going forward, with many teams pulling off similar moves in an attempt to game the system.
WATCH: Clint Bowyer’s Infamous Cheating Scandal at Richmond
Following the Bubba Wallace incident, several drivers have offered their two cents when it comes to NASCAR’s role in dealing with the issue of deliberate cautions that go beyond the realm of intense competition.
“It’s hard to make a black and white rule on that when something is on purpose or one was an accident,” Logano told Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press. “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.”
Denny Hamlin, who secured his spot in the Championship 4 following his win at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, added, “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.”
“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,” Hamlin continued. “You can’t fake things no matter what the sport, but the stakes are higher in NASCAR because you can really screw people over.”