When NASCAR handed down its one-race suspension of Chase Elliott for his run-in with Denny Hamlin at the Coca-Cola 600, Kenny Wallace wasn't all that surprised, despite claiming earlier on The Kenny Wallace Show that he didn't expect Elliott to be suspended.
Wallace knew Elliott would never admit to hitting Hamlin on purpose, which is what would have warranted a clear suspension. On a video uploaded to Twitter, Wallace pointed out that he also said on the show that there was "one thing" that realistically could have gotten the Hendrick Motorsports driver in trouble. As it turns out, that "one thing" ended up coming to fruition.
?Coffee with Kenny?
How Chase Elliott got caught. pic.twitter.com/rq9SoGcj3T
— Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace) May 31, 2023
"NASCAR clearly said, 'what got Chase Elliott in trouble was data. Showing the steering wheel turn, and also the in-car camera,'" Wallace said.
Chase Elliott will be suspended for this weekend's Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer made it very clear why Elliott's suspension was warranted during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
? ?After looking at all the available resources [...] it was an intentional act by Chase.?
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) May 30, 2023
"It was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion, in our view after reviewing all of the available resources," Sawyer said.
Elliott's suspension comes from the section of the NASCAR Rulebook regarding the "Member Code of Conduct." Rules covered by that section include "removing another competitor from championship contention in a dangerous manner when not racing for position based on the available evidence and specific circumstances of an incident."
It has been a rough season for the driver of the No. 9 team, as Elliott already missed six races recovering from a broken leg, and looked to have finally gotten back into form when the incident in question occurred. Now, he must serve the one-race suspension, and the folks at Hendrick Motorsports will have to once again apply for a waiver from NASCAR.
"We understand NASCAR's need to maintain consistency in its officiating," the team said in an official statement. "The penalty will not be appealed, and we will submit a formal request for a playoff waiver."
One man's missed opportunity is another man's great opportunity, and that will be the case for Corey LaJoie, the current driver of the No. 7 team for Spire Motorsports, who will fill in for Elliott at Gateway. LaJoie's seat will be filled by Carson Hocevar, who will make his Cup Series debut.
This will serve as a great opportunity for LaJoie, who famously sent a letter to Rick Hendrick when Jimmie Johnson stepped away from the Cup Series in 2020, hoping to get a chance to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. Crazily enough, just three years later, he will get to do just that.
It may be for just one race, but it is a chance nonetheless. Corey made sure to go into detail about the opportunity on his Stacking Pennies podcast.
"It was strange to me how fast it all kind of happened," LaJoie said. "I got a text at about noon that said, 'Hey, if they sit Chase out, you're going to drive it.' I was like, 'What?' I didn't hear anything until about three o'clock, once NASCAR told Hendrick they had to sit him out ... it was like, 'Hey, it's happening. You're in it.'"
All it takes is one solid chance for Corey LaJoie to make a big impact, and he knows it. Just look at Josh Berry, who has given himself a future opportunity in the Cup Series (rumor has it) thanks to his impressive sub work for Elliott and Alex Bowman this season. Will LaJoie soon cash his ticket to future Cup Series glory? Time will tell.
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