23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace returned to the track on October 29 after serving a one-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Kyle Larson. He reflected on this punishment and revealed what he learned while missing the trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Wallace provided his thoughts on the matter during a roughly four-minute media session outside of his hauler at Martinsville Speedway. He explained that he and Larson had a good conversation after the intentional wreck and that they are in a good place. Wallace also explained that he will have to have a different approach during heated moments in the future.
“It was tough,” Wallace told media members. “I tweeted out, ‘humble pie.’ I mean, I hated not being in that race and I was excited, that was one of those races that was circled on the schedule. Toyotas have been really strong at the mile-and-a-half stuff and really love running at Homestead. I was bummed and legit bummed that I wasn’t racing. I had to put that aside and still help the team go out and grow and continue to gain speed with those two drivers.
“What have I learned? You have to think before you do,” Wallace added. “In this sport, it’s the heat of the moment type things that get to you. Seeing that and going back and looking at a 10,000-foot view, definitely could have handled everything way different and been in a different spot. I put myself in a bad light, I put our team in a bad light, our sponsors — it’s just something that I’m not proud of, but moving on, moving forward, and not allowed to make that mistake again.”
Wallace Hopes for Consistency in Future Races
One of the interesting pieces of information that Wallace provided is that he had a discussion with both NASCAR President Steve Phelps and COO Steve O’Donnell. The 23XI Racing driver said that he accepted the penalty, but he also made a request of his own.
“I talked to O’Donnell and I talked to Phelps and I said, ‘Hey, I’m good with being the example if we can keep this consistent moving forward,’ because it’s happened multiple times this year and it’s something that may continue to happen for other drivers down the road,” Wallace said.
“I definitely learned my lesson, but we have to be consistent with this no matter if it’s here at Martinsville or if it’s at Daytona or Talladega. We have to keep it consistent across the boards and across the series. That was the conversation, it was a good conversation.”
To Wallace’s point, there have been multiple instances of drivers intentionally wrecking each other. The two most prominent examples in 2022 are Carson Hocevar hooking Colby Howard into the wall at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and Noah Gragson wrecking Sage Karam at Road America. Gragson received a fine and lost some points while Hocevar did not receive any punishment.
Wallace Has Work Ahead of Him
Wallace learned his lesson, and he knows how to better approach heated moments in the future. However, that is only one step. He also has considerable work remaining ahead of him.
Door, Bumper, Clear | Dirty Mo Media and FOX Sports analyst Kaitlyn Vincie addressed this during the October 24 episode of the podcast. They noted that Wallace will likely hear the loudest boos of his career during the remaining races as he closes out the 2022 season.
“It’s going to be hard to manage this — and I said last week before he was suspended — he’s got to make peace with this,” host Brett Griffin said. “I’ve seen guys completely collapse in situations like this and it take them a year to get over it.”
Vincie continued and explained that there is one benefit for Wallace in that he only has two races remaining in the season. He will have an opportunity to refresh and reset during the offseason before heading to Los Angeles for the Busch Light Clash in February.
“I haven’t lost the edge that we’ve been on,” Wallace said on October 29. “The second half of this season has been really, really strong and the best of my career. Now I’ve kind of put a black light over this with this deal last week, and I hate that because we still have the momentum on our side and a lot of things to do and excited to be back at the track and with the team here.”