by Jim Clayborn | RNN
Bubba Wallace missed Sunday’s NASCAR race, and that’s evidently not his only sanction after losing his cool in Las Vegas last weekend.
Denny Hamlin — who, along with Michael Jordan, co-owns the 23XI racing team that Wallace drives for — said Oct. 22 that the team has dealt with matters in a way that goes “above and beyond” the penalties handed down by NASCAR.
Hamlin didn’t say what that means, choosing to keep those matters in-house.
One racing analyst that “means” Wallace will have to forfeit a big chunk of money out of his 23XI purse, possibly up to $1 million in fines.
“He understands where I stand, where the team stands, the values that we want to present on the racetrack, and he just didn’t represent it that well last week,” Hamlin said. “But, you know, in the grand scheme of things, we’re very happy with his progress. And he knows he’s still got some stuff to work on when he gets out of the race car.”
That may not be enough to satisfy sport critcs – and fans, however, who were already hot after NASCAR only suspended Wallace for a single race for his recklessness and physical attack of another driver.
As we have reported, former NASCAR Cup Series driver and current analyst for NBC Sports Kyle Petty made it clear he disagrees with NASCAR’s punishment and believes Wallace should have been suspended for the rest of the season.
And there is a spreading demand among NASCAR fans for principal sponsor McDonald’s to drop Wallace completely…which would cost him and the team a huge sum.
More on Wallace below, but in NASCAR world, the fines are being issued quite a bit of late.
A week later, Wallace intentionally wrecked reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in a dangerous act of retaliation. Wallace got suspended for the next week at Homestead-Miami, and playoff contender Christopher Bell got caught up in that wreck — smashing his car and denting his chances of becoming NASCAR champion. Bell remains in the playoffs, but needs to rally.
Recently, NASCAR issued $200,000 in fines after finding that Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer slowed on the backstretch of the final lap of a race in Charlotte and helped teammate Chase Briscoe move up enough to reach the next round of the playoffs. Custer and his crew chief, Mike Shiplett, were both fined $100,000 after NASCAR determined Custer’s slowdown was deliberate.
Drivers tended to agree with NASCAR on these calls.
“In my opinion, those moves were extremely, extremely dumb — both of them,” driver Daniel Suarez said of the decisions made by Custer and Wallace. “And with both of them, I was going to be extremely surprised if they were not penalties. … You have to be smarter. I don’t know what those guys were thinking.”
That question — “what was he thinking?” — has been a storyline for much of this NASCAR season, with no shortage of temper-flaring incidents.
Wallace, of note, has been finding himself dealing with “big problems” recently.
Wallace is one of the least popular drivers in the sport, with much of the disdain from fan’s stemming from Wallace accusing them of racism after he pushed the false claim that someone left a noose on his car at Talladega. In actuality it was a garage door pull.
He called the door pull a “despicable act of racism and hatred.” He posted to Twitter, “Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism.”
When the claim was disproven, Wallace didn’t apologize for accusing fans of racism, he doubled down on his accusations — angering many fans.
After the FBI concluded no crime was committed, Wallace embraced the hoax telling CNN’s Don Lemon, “I’m pissed. I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity. They’re not stealing that away from me, but they’re just trying to test it.”
He later told Lemon, “It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn’t directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That’s what I’m saying.”
But it was not a noose, said even the FBI who wasted their time investigating the farce.
FBI spokesman Paul Daymond told CNN, “It’s my understanding that the rope was fashioned into a noose knot and used as a door pull.”
Wallace has never apologized for his involvement in bracing the noose hoax. However, he has been rewarded for it. His off track activity was one of the key accomplishments touted as part of his contract extension announcement made by 23XI Racing earlier this year.
Wallace has also raised some eyebrows with his comments on a Christian rival driver, as well as Kyle Rittenhouse.
Minutes after a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, announced its verdict clearing Rittenhouse of every charge lodged against him, Wallace pronounced the verdict “sad” and hinted that it was a result of racism.
“Ha, let the boy be black and it would’ve been life…hell he would’ve had his life taken before the bullshit trial… sad,” Wallace tweeted.
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