AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) â Bubba Wallace said he wasnât worried about repercussions for intentionally causing a caution because NASCAR doesnât do anything about the practice.
NASCAR accepted the dare from Wallace. He was fined $50,000 and docked 50 points on Saturday, a day after admitting to an NBC Sports reporter his spin at Texas Motor Speedway was deliberate and other drivers do it all the time.
âUntil they do anything, no. Iâm not the only one to do it,â he said in a phone video recording.
Wallace was reacting to earlier comments made by championship contender Kyle Larson, who had the outcome of last Sundayâs race altered when Wallace intentionally spun to avoid losing multiple laps for a flat tire. That caution changed the complexion of Larsonâs race and dumped him into a huge hole in the standings.
Thereâs only Sundayâs penultimate event at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix remaining to claim the final two spots in the title-deciding race.
Larson said his Chip Ganassi Racing team had pulled data from Wallaceâs car to confirm Larsonâs belief it was a deliberate attempt to bring out a caution.
âWe looked at Bubbaâs 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. Itâs whatever at this point,â Larson said.
NASCAR said Saturday the data was not enough to prove Wallaceâs intent and his fine was for the âcomplete admission of guiltâ he made to NBC Sports.
NASCAR met with Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team Saturday morning.
âWe fully understand NASCARâs position and expectations of its competitors,â said RPM competition director Philippe Lopez. âNASCAR has a difficult job officiating race events and we do not need to make the task more challenging.â
Larsonâs criticism immediately after Sundayâs race brought the issue of deliberate cautions to the forefront during an intense competition for the two remaining positions in the next weekâs final four. NASCAR champion Joey Logano had a flat tire and spun two weeks ago at Martinsville and the timing of it was suspicious enough to raise eyebrows.
Logano has said the flat tire made him spin, and Larson is among drivers who believe him. But the Wallace spin made this a hot topic that had drivers opining on NASCARâs role in making judgment calls.
The series in 2014 was rocked by the biggest cheating scandal in at least 20 years when Clint Bowyer deliberately caused a caution to help then-teammate Martin Truex Jr. make the playoffs. Bowyerâs spin set in motion a series of shenanigans by several teams as they gamed the system and manipulated NASCARâs inability to police the action and intent of all its teams.
NASCAR strongly penalized teams involved and made clear that integrity and honesty was being closely monitored, more so in the playoffs.
But the sanctioning body had not waded into the Wallace situation until his admission the spin was deliberate.
Drivers are divided on if NASCAR can or should police the issue.
âItâs hard to make a black and white rule on that when something is on purpose or one was an accident,â Logano said. âHow do you really know? All sports deal with that. Think about soccer. Geez, you watch that and theyâre flopping all day long out there.â
But Denny Hamlin noted that integrity should be higher among the drivers, even though many have admitted to spinning on purpose in attempts to save their race.
âI think it should play out naturally. Iâm all for whatever is natural, not messing around with the cautions and getting them when you need them,â Denny Hamlin said. âOur 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, thatâs not a game changer, right?
âHowever, a caution that is untimely for someone that has pitted versus someone who hasnât is a complete game changer. You canât fake things no matter what the sport, but the stakes are higher in NASCAR because you can really screw people over.â