'I definitely learned my lesson': Bubba Wallace returns from one-race suspension
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Bubba Wallace said it was tough to watch someone else drive his race car but understood NASCAR’s one-race suspension of him following an Oct. 16 incident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Wallace returned to the racetrack Saturday at Martinsville Speedway after missing the Oct. 22-23 race weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The suspension was the result of him, in retaliation, turning Kyle Larson into the wall at Vegas — an extremely dangerous move considering the speeds and the way he used his car to hook Larson’s car.
After the accident, Wallace shoved Larson several times and also pushed away the hand of a NASCAR official. NASCAR suspended him specifically for the on-track retaliation and not what occurred afterward.
"I totally accept the penalty and the repercussions that came from my actions," Wallace said prior to practice Saturday. "I’m good with being the example; it’s if we can keep this consistent moving forward.
"It’s happened multiple times this year, and it’s something that may continue to happen. ... I definitely learned my lesson, but we need to be consistent with this."
John Hunter Nemechek substituted for Wallace, who watched last week's race from the 23XI Racing team headquarters, where engineers watch the race and help the team make decisions based on data and video they get from the racetrack.
"Just sitting out and not being a part of your normal routine was the toughest thing," said Wallace, whose name was removed from the car for Homestead because of the suspension, a move that showed the team was upset with him.
Team co-owner Denny Hamlin said the organization went "above and beyond" in punishing Wallace but did not specify the actions taken by the team, which is co-owned by basketball icon Michael Jordan.
"I put myself in a bad light," Wallace said. "I put our team in a bad light, our sponsors. It’s just something that I’m not proud of. ... You’re not allowed to make that mistake again."
Wallace, the only Black driver in the Cup Series, said he had a good conversation with Larson in the last week. He had not talked to Larson in the week following the incident, and Larson had said he didn’t need an apology.
"We had a great conversation this week," Wallace said. "The best thing for us is we both understood where our frustrations were and moving forward in how we can both handle those situations better."
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.