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Bubba Wallace Hit With Penalty, Chase Elliott Spared

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

A wild “cool down lap” on Sunday caused NASCAR to drop the penalty hammer on Wednesday morning. NASCAR announced that Bubba Wallace had been fined $50,000 for putting Alex Bowman in the wall. However, Chase Elliott was not penalized despite doing something similar to Daniel Suarez after Suarez spun Elliott out in the closing laps.

  • Bubba Wallace’s gripe with Bowman stemmed from an incident early in the race. On lap 26, while it was raining, Bowman spun out Wallace in turn two, forcing Wallace to pit for repairs. Bowman later admitted that he was “Embarrassed” by the incident and tried to reach out to Wallace under the red flag, sending a text and a phone call. Bowman never said whether or not those texts or phone calls were returned, and he later said he believed Wallace should not be penalized.
  • Elliott and Suarez collided on the last lap. Suarez spun Elliott out in turn 12, and Elliott caught up to Suarez on the “Cool-Down Lap,” swerving into Suarez and then brake-checking into turn 6. The two discussed the incident on pit road after the race.
  • Fans believe NASCAR was inconsistent with this penalty. If Wallace had been penalized, Elliott would have been, as well. Some believe Wallace should not have been penalized at all.

The Chase Elliott Incident can be viewed below:

Why Did NASCAR Penalize Wallace, But Not Elliott?

Regarding run-ins on the “Cool Down Lap,” NASCAR treats every incident on a case-by-case basis. Multiple factors make each incident different, which means NASCAR doesn’t have a hard and fast rule for this or any driver conflict. We dive into some of those past incidents in the article below.

So, the question becomes, what makes the Bubba Wallace and Chase Elliott incidents different? The main difference is that the inciting incidents for both of these happened at very different times. Wallace and Bowman’s initial run-in happened before the rain delay, while Elliott and Suarez occurred in the final laps.

NASCAR typically does not take kindly to drivers who sit and stew on an incident and then decide to retaliate later in the same race. Examples include Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at North Wilkesboro this year and Matt Kenseth with Joey Logano at Martinsville in 2015. Both incidents resulted in major penalties.

Bowman made an effort to contact Wallace and make amends, but Wallace seemingly ignored those efforts. He instead decided to put Bowman in the wall on the “Cool Down Lap,” all while Bowman’s window net was down.

Compare that to Elliott and Suarez, which happened much later in the race. Elliott did not have a chance to express his displeasure or make amends. He decided to swerve into Suarez on the “Cool Down Lap” but did not put Suarez into the wall.

NASCAR has shown restraint for these types of moves in response to late-race incidents. One such example came in 2021 at Martinsville, where Denny Hamlin interrupted Alex Bowman’s burnout after Bowman spun Hamlin out with six laps to go. Hamlin was not penalized.

These incidents do have differences, which could impact how NASCAR viewed them. Does that mean NASCAR made the right call? Depends on who you ask.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts