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Ahead of this weekend’s penultimate, Cup Series Round of 8 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe weighed in on NASCAR suspending Bubba Wallace, stating he believes the rising retaliation in the sport had grown out of control.
The controversial incident Briscoe’s referring to occurred at Las Vegas between Wallace and Kyle Larson. Though he was first shoved by Larson after he wouldn’t lift, Wallace dangerously hit Larson’s rear quarter panel to spin him out – a well-known unwritten rule of code for stock car racers – then Wallace confronted Larson on the infield where he physically shoved him several times. League officials punished Wallace Tuesday with a one-race suspension. In a presser this week for the Dixie Vodka 400 Sunday, Briscoe didn’t hold back when he spoke with reporters.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wrecked anybody on purpose, so I don’t think I have to worry about the repercussions of it, but I definitely think that the penalties need to be severe,” Briscoe stated. “I feel like [driver retaliation] over the last couple years, it kind of got out of hand a little bit just because I think guys have felt comfortable to do certain things and know they’re probably not going to be major repercussions."
“I think [NASCAR’s] trying to get the ball back in their court to where they have a little more control probably,” he continued. “Which I think is probably needed because it has gotten out of hand. Look at how we race at the end of these road course races.”
“There’s just no respect a lot of times, things like that,” added the wheelman in the No. 14 Ford Mustang.
Briscoe’s not alone in his stance on needing heftier penalties either. Other Cup Series drivers have echoed similar thoughts, such as Briscoe’s current teammate at SHR Kevin Harvick.
“Every [playoff] is different, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they even got more severe at times just trying to get that control back,” Harvick noted ahead of Sunday’s race. “It doesn’t really surprise me.”
“It doesn’t really change how, I feel like, how I drive,” No. 4 explained. “There’s some guys that probably are frustrated with it because they may feel they can’t take things into their own hands as much. I feel fine about it. I don’t feel like it’s really going to change anything for me.”
Other drivers like recent Las Vegas winner Joey Logano and 2010 NASCAR Hall of Fame 2010 inductee Kyle Petty have both heavily criticized Wallace for his role in the incident.
“The retaliation is not OK in the way it happened,” Logano explained Tuesday during “The Morning Drive” on NASCAR Radio. “If he spun him to the infield, maybe it’s a little better, but right-rear hooking someone in the dogleg is not OK.”
“I don’t know if everyone realizes how bad that could have been,” he added. “That could have been the end of Kyle Larson’s career. That to me was what was on the line. Or his life.”
Despite NASCAR handing Wallace a one-race suspension, Petty explained on Peacock’s "NASCAR America MotorMouths" why league officials should’ve taken a harder stance on punishing Wallace.
“He should have been suspended for the rest of the year. Rest of the year,” Petty declared. “[Wallace] turns a guy into the outside wall, then walks across the racetrack. First, you intentionally wreck somebody. That’s a suspension. He’s walking across the racetrack, and cars are going by him on both sides. That’s not safe. That should be another suspension.”
“[Wallace] shoves [Larson]. That’s a physical confrontation,” Petty noted. “If I do that on the sidewalk, I’m in handcuffs somewhere. … The lesson should be the rest of the year, just the rest of the year. That’s just me.”
With Joey Logano earning the first spot in the Final Four of the Cup Series Championship, the Dixie Vodka 400 this Sunday on NBC marks a pivotal race for Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and the four other remaining drivers, all battling for the final three spots. Now that NASCAR has acted on the Wallace-Larson incident, hopefully, trading paint at the Homestead-Miami Speedway won’t turn into trading blows.
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