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Will NASCAR PENALIZE Bubba Wallace Over Bowman Altercation?

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What’s Happening?

Following the Chicago Street Race on Sunday, race winner Alex Bowman was surprised as Bubba Wallace door-slammed the No. 48 car into the retaining wall. NASCAR is in the process of reviewing the incident, but what will NASCAR do?

  • The post-race incident occurred after Bowman spun Wallace out earlier in the race while it was raining. Wallace fell from the top five to well out of contention and showed displeasure after the race.
  • It is not uncommon for drivers to send a message on the cool-down lap after an incident on track. NASCAR has handled these incidents differently based on the situation.
  • Fans were very surprised to see this move from Wallace. There are varying opinions about what NASCAR should do and where they should go.

Everything We Know

The catalyst for Wallace’s frustration came during the Stage Two restart, where Bowman spun Wallace out in turn two. This forced Wallace’s team to make repairs on pit road. While he rebounded to finish 13th, he easily could have finished in the top 10 with his car’s speed.

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Regardless of how the post-race played out, Wallace was understandably frustrated to see the car that ended his race take the checkered flag first. Bowman took the blame for the incident.

I’d be mad too. I ruined [Wallace’s] day. The restart was chaotic. I just made every wrong decision I possibly could, and I was fighting with my windshield wiper switch trying to get the thing working. I couldn’t get it working, I was focused on that, missed the corner, and cleaned him out.

Alex Bowman

Bowman later said that he was “Embarrassed” by the incident, and he tried to reach out to Wallace during the rain delay through a phone call and a text. Those seemingly went unanswered. When asked if it deserved a penalty, Bowman said no.

No [It does not deserve a penalty]. He barely hit me, everything was fine and it was plenty deserved.

Alex Bowman

How Has NASCAR Treated Incidents Like This Before?

Drivers running into others on the “Cool Down Lap” is not uncommon. It’s a way to show frustration toward another driver, and when done correctly, the other driver may brush it off as “no harm, no foul.”

Alex Bowman was on the receiving end of this after winning at Martinsville in 2021, where he spun out Denny Hamlin late in the race to win. Remember, this was the elimination race in the Round of 8, and Denny Hamlin was battling to get into the Championship 4. Bowman’s window net was also down during this incident.

NASCAR did not penalize Hamlin for this incident. This may have been because Hamlin was in the Championship 4, and docking points to drop him out of the Championship 4 after he was spun out late in the race would have been an overly harsh penalty for what was ultimately a pretty mild showing of frustration.

A similar instance happened in 2008 at Bristol when Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards ran into each other on the cool-down lap. The two had battled hard for the lead late in the race. Edwards spun Busch out, and both drivers ended up on probation while Busch was sent to the NASCAR hauler after the race.

Another instance came at Charlotte in 2014. Brad Keselowski ran into multiple drivers, including Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart, on the cool-down lap. This set off a brawl in the garage, as Kenseth had his seat belts unfastened at the time of the hit. Keselowski and Stewart were both fined and placed on probation.

What Will NASCAR Do?

Overall, these situations are typically handled on a case-by-case basis. Typically, NASCAR allows drivers to express their frustration towards other drivers. Once the personal safety of the drivers becomes compromised, such as physical altercations, intentional wrecks, or unsafe contact, that’s when NASCAR typically steps in.

Wallace put Bowman in the wall, and Bowman’s window net was down at the time of the hit. Was it dangerous? It wasn’t necessarily safe, but Bowman’s window net was also down during the Hamlin incident at Martinsville.

It’s also worth noting that this wasn’t the only post-race incident in Chicago. Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez also go into it on the “Cool Down Lap” after Suarez spun Elliott out. Elliott made a very similar move on Suarez as Wallace did on Bowman. If Wallace is penalized, should Elliott be penalized too?

It is also worth noting that the initial Wallace/Bowman incident happened on lap 26, whereas the Elliott/Suarez situation happened in the closing laps. Wallace had plenty of time to stew on this, and NASCAR does not always take kindly to pre-meditated acts of retaliation like this. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s penalty for his fight with Kyle Busch is a prime example.

Will Wallace be penalized? If anything, it will probably be a monetary fine, but a points penalty likely depends on how dangerous NASCAR felt the situation was. We will find out later this week.

What do you think about all this? Let us know on Discord or X what your take is. And don’t forget you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube.

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