Bubba Wallace did some living, and then later some learning, during last Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It all happened on lap 94 of the playoff race when the 23XI Racing driver hit the frontstretch wall after racing panel-to-panel with Kyle Larson. In what seemed like a retaliatory act, Wallace hooked Larson's car, sending both cars into the SAFER barrier and collecting Christopher Bell in the process. As if this weren't enough living, Wallace did a lot more when he walked on the track during the subsequent caution period and repeatedly shoved Larson in the infield.
After spending a day or so to cool off, Wallace issued an apology via social media on Monday night for his run-in with Larson.
"I want to apologize for my actions on Sunday following the on-track incident with Kyle Larson and the No. 5 car," Wallace wrote.
"My behavior does not align with the core values that are shared by 23XI Racing and our partners, who have played a crucial role in my incredible journey to the top of this great sport."
"I want to apologize to NASCAR and the fans, along with Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Toyota for putting them in a situation in the Playoffs that they do not deserve."
"I compete with immense passion, and with passion at times comes frustration. Upon reflecting, I should have represented our partners and core team values better than I did by letting my frustrations follow me outside of the car. You live and learn, and I intend to learn from this."
On Sunday, Wallace explained his immediate frustration with Larson, while adding that his steering completely failed and that him hitting Larson's right-rear quarter panel was not intentional.
"When you get shoved in the fence, deliberately like (Larson) did, trying to force me to lift -- the steering was gone, and he just so happened to be there," Wallace said. "I hate it for our team. We had a super-fast car -- not on short-run speed, we were kind of falling back there and Larson wanted to make it a three-wide dive bomb."
"He never cleared me. I don't lift. I know I'm kind of new to running up front, but I don't lift. I wasn't even in a spot to lift, he never lifted either and now we are junk."
So, with all that in mind, what's the verdict? Did Kyle deliberately shove Bubba into the wall? Did Bubba's steering actually fail or did he dish out some harsh payback? Did Bubba's decision to lay hands on Kyle mean that he gets parked for the rest of the season? NASCAR officials will review all the footage, and should reach a decision on which penalties to dole out later this week.
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