NASCAR is quite unhappy that Bubba Wallace admitted that he spun his car out on purpose because of a flat tire at Texas.
The sanctioning body penalized Wallace 50 points and fined him $50,000 on Saturday for his spin a week ago. Wallace’s car had a flat tire during a green flag pit stop cycle. Because of that cycle, NASCAR appeared much more unwilling than it is at other times to throw a caution for Wallace’s flat tire. You can see in the video above that Wallace saved his car from spinning around at first before spinning again a few seconds later.
As NASCAR waited to throw a caution, Wallace spun his car to a stop on the apron inside turn 2. NASCAR was then forced to throw a caution.
NASCAR didn’t move to do anything to Wallace until Saturday, a day after Kyle Larson — a driver negatively affected by Wallace’s spin — said that the throttle data from Wallace’s car showed it was pretty clear the spin was intentional. Wallace was then asked about what Larson said earlier in the day.
Asked about his spin, Wallace told NBC Sports: “I learned from Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano).”
Asked if he was worried about any repercussions, Wallace told NBC Sports: “Until they do anything, no. I’m not the only one to do it. I’m racing for myself. Not for Larson. Not for Chevrolet at that moment. For myself and going multiple laps down.”
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 9, 2019
Given the timeline of the whole ordeal, it’s easy to conclude that Wallace isn’t necessarily being penalized for his intentional spin. He’s being penalizing for intentionally spinning and then admitting that he intentionally spun. Hell, NASCAR basically said as much.
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 9, 2019
"Our team met with NASCAR officials this morning to discuss Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.'s post-practice comments on Friday, November 8, concerning an on-track incident which occurred at the Texas Motor Speedway," Richard Petty Motorsports director of competition Philippe Lopez said in a team statement Saturday morning. "We fully understand NASCAR's position and expectations of its competitors. NASCAR has a difficult job officiating race events and we do not need to make the task more challenging. Wallace will not appeal the penalty, and will direct his immediate focus to this weekend's event at the ISM Raceway."
Drivers spinning on purpose isn’t new
As Wallace noted, he’s far from the first driver to spin to cause a caution. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was famously penalized for spinning himself out to cause a caution at Bristol.
And it’s easy to wonder how Wallace’s situation would have forced NASCAR to throw a caution had he not spun out. If Wallace would have driven slowly around the track instead of spinning his car he would have likely strewn debris all over the track. That could have forced NASCAR to throw a caution for debris.
Or Wallace could have stopped his car on track on the backstretch to prevent his car from getting torn up by the shredded rubber from the tire. That’s a defensible and previously executed move as well. And would have also forced NASCAR’s caution hand.
Hell, had NASCAR simply thrown a caution for Wallace’s first half-spin and subsequent slowdown he wouldn’t have needed to spin himself out anyway. While it would have been an extremely weak caution, NASCAR has shown a tendency to throw cautions for cars that execute half-spins and slow down previously. A quick caution trigger by the control tower is far from unprecedented either.
Logano’s spin at Martinsville
Wallace’s reference to Logano may be about what happened at Martinsville the week before Texas. Logano suffered a cut tire after contact with Denny Hamlin and his car spun around to cause a caution.
It sure looked like Logano spun his car on purpose to get the caution. Look at his hands on the steering wheel and the relative speed he has entering the corner before his spin.
Like Wallace, you can’t blame him one bit for spinning the car either if it was done to get NASCAR to throw a caution. Getting to pit road at Martinsville would have taken significant time and forced Logano multiple laps down. The caution kept him on the lead lap and helped lead to a top-10 finish.
The lesson here is pretty clear and comes at the expense of drivers being candid. An intentional spin is fine as long as a driver or team doesn’t admit to it. And, like the history of intentional spins, it’s not a new lesson either. The 2013 penalty fiasco at Richmond wouldn’t have unfolded the way it did had Michael Waltrip Racing not made their strategy to keep Martin Truex Jr. in the playoffs so obvious.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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