Wallace received penalty for Chicago door slam as payback

NASCAR officials handed down a $50K penalty to Bubba Wallace on Wednesday for an intentional door slam to race-winner Alex Bowman, after the checkered flag of last weekend’s Cup Series race at the Chicago Street Course. The retalliatory maneuver was for an earlier incident, in which Bowman collided with Wallace.

Cameras showed Wallace’s No. 23 car drive alongside Bowman after the checkered flag and veer sharply left, causing Bowman’s car to hit a concrete barrier, briefly lifting the car’s right front tire off the ground. In-car camera showed an unprepared Bowman, who had already dropped his window net, getting jostled and then raising his hands in an obivously confused state as to what had just happened. Bowman later said he did not believe Wallace should be penalized for the incident and repeatedly expressed remorse for the earlier crash that angered Wallace. Apparently, he had tried calling Wallace to apologize during the rain delay. And when Wallace failed to answer, he texted his apology. Clearly, Wallace did not accept it, nor did he recognize that rain conditions on the slippery streets caused several more drivers to accidentally make contact and spin during the course of the race. Most drivers accepted the fact that conditions were not ideal, and spray from the wet surface made matters worse by hindering visibility.

In his post race interview, Bowman explained: “I was fighting with my windshield wiper switch trying to get the thing working,” Bowman said. “I was focused on that, missed the corner and cleaned him out. I just messed up and absolutely ruined his day. Nothing I can do to make it better, and I’m sure us winning probably only makes it worse.”

NASCAR refrained from issuing a points penalty, which would have hit Wallace where it hurts. Wallace finished the race in 13th place and currently sits 17th in the playoff standings, 45 points below the elimination line for the 16-driver field. So, in the grand scheme of things, the monetary fine is relatively minor. The purpose of the penalty was to make a point and emphasize that safety must always be a top priority.

The $50,000 fine falls under Sections 4.4.B & D: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.

Many are questioning why Chase Elliott was not fined for a similar move made on Daniel Suarez, but perhaps NASCAR’s rationale goes back to the Ricky Stenhouse penalty at North Wilkesboro. The on-track incident with Kyle Busch led to an extremely angry Stenhouse, who waited out the entire race to confront Busch as he returned to his hauler. Stenhouse had hours to calm down, so his affront to Busch was one that was seen as premeditated. Had it been purely spontaneous after the race, such as past confrontations seen with Busch and Logano, Logano and Hamlin, or Chastain and Gragson, they likely would have let it go. Nobody was penalized in those instances. In this case, Stenhouse’s confrontation was planned. So, perhaps NASCAR sees Wallace’s actions as very similar because he had hours to calm down and had already been issued several apologies from Bowman, on radio, via phone call and via text.