Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell shared a flight home from Las Vegas, and during the trip Wallace apologized to his fellow Toyota for the incident that crippled Bell’s championship chances.
Bell said Wallace also apologized to the entire Toyota group at Monday’s competition. Wallace was suspended one race by NASCAR for a dangerous act of retaliation that inadvertently attracted Bell.
“We actually flew home together on Sunday night and he apologized on Sunday and then he addressed our whole group on Monday and at the competition meeting,” Bell said on Wednesday. unfortunate circumstances.”
Wallace has been suspended for Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for allegedly getting revenge on reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Larson in Las Vegas. Wallace pinned Larson in the back corner of his car to spin it directly into traffic, where Larson drilled Bell and ended Bell’s run.
Bell drives for Joe Gibbs Racing and Wallace drives for 23XI Racing, co-owned by JGR driver Denny Hamlin. The two teams have an alliance, and Toyota requires its teams to work together.
Bell and Hamlin are the only two Toyota drivers still eligible to qualify for next month’s winner-take-all championship finale, with Bell now last in the eight-driver field.
There are four spots in the championship final, and Joey Logano clinched the top spot for Team Penske and Ford with his victory Sunday in Las Vegas. But the entire opening race of the third round of the NASCAR playoffs was overshadowed by Wallace, who lost his cool as he and Larson jockeyed for position and neither gave an inch of space.
Larson ended up running Wallace into the wall, and Wallace immediately responded by chasing Larson down the track and back into traffic. Hitting Bell’s passing car, Larson’s trajectory was stopped before he hit the wall directly.
Wallace then had a shove with Larson after the crash and also shoved a NASCAR official. The suspension handed down Tuesday falls under NASCAR’s conduct policy and technically covers most of Wallace’s actions in Las Vegas.
But Steve O’Donnell, executive director of competition and racing operations, said the penalties were for Wallace’s dangerous and deliberate retaliation against Larson, not the altercation moments later. O’Donnell said Wallace’s pulling of Larson was “a really dangerous act that we thought was intentional and put other competitors in danger.”
Kevin Harvick, one of the most outspoken drivers about safety in recent memory, condemned Wallace’s retaliation.
“Intentionally rear-ending people (on the right) should never be acceptable,” Harvick posted on social media. “Protect us from ourselves. I hope this is the beginning of the end of everything that’s going on.”
Wallace is the first driver suspended for on-track actions since Matt Kenseth was suspended for two races in 2015 for bringing his wrecked car back onto the track to intentionally crash Logano at Martinsville.
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