Sometimes it is best to just keep your mouth shut or it can get you into trouble.
Following Darrell Wallace Jr.‘s comments to NBC Sports reporter Dustin Long on Friday at ISM Raceway, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver was penalized 50 points and $50,000. The intentional spin from the AAA Texas 500 was in violation of Section 12.1.a General Procedures, Section 12.8 NASCAR Member Conduct, Section 12.8.1 Member Conduct Guidelines and Section 10.8 In-Race Violations.
Per the NASCAR rule book, Section 10.8 states that the sanctioning body can impose a penalty for “intentionally causing or attempt to cause a caution period.”
Meanwhile, section 12.1.a of the Rule Book states, “NASCAR membership is a privilege. With that privilege comes certain benefits, responsibilities and obligations. Correct and proper conduct, both on and off the race track, is part of a Member’s responsibilities. A Member’s actions can reflect upon the sport as a whole and on other NASCAR Members. Ideally, NASCAR Members are role models for the many fans who follow this sport, regardless of the type of license a Member may hold, or the specific Series in which a Member may participate. Therefore, NASCAR views a Member’s conduct, both on and off the race track, which might constitute a behavioral Rules violation under this Rule Book with great importance.”
Following contact, Wallace had a tire going flat on his No. 43 entry. Rather than making his way down pit road under green flag conditions, which would have put him multiple laps down, Wallace spun to bring out the caution flag.
— #NASCARPlayoffs on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 3, 2019
Following the spin, NASCAR chose to not penalize Wallace initially, with NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell stating it was a judgment call and they would take a look at it, addressing it with the drivers and teams if they felt necessary.
However, a penalty was then handed out following Wallace’s comments to Long on Friday.
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 9, 2019
“If we feel like it’s on purpose and we have enough information to determine that 100% it’s on purpose, we will react,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said. “The reaction today was after a complete admission of guilt, so that’s really what led to the penalty happening today.
“… That was a full admission of something that has been abuzz in the garage and the media. (A warning instead of a penalty) wasn’t an option.”
Long had approached Wallace about the spin due to comments from Kyle Larson to the press on Friday. After saying that “Helen Keller could see Bubba’s spin was on purpose” following the event, he said his team checked the data and could see the spin was on purpose.
“You could definitely see, because we have SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology) where you have the digital car,” he commented. “You could see him like swerving, he turns right and at the same time he turns left and stabs the throttle and spins out. It’s whatever at this point.”
Richard Petty Motorsports released a statement shortly thereafter, stating they will not appeal the penalty.
“We fully understand NASCAR’s position and expectations of its competitors,” said Philippe Lopez, Richard Petty Motorsports’ director of competition. “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.”
NASCAR is hoping this penalty will deter drivers from purposeful spins in the future.
“We haven’t spoken to the drivers, but this obviously is going to start some dialogue. … We have the ability to react monetarily and points-wise, what we feel is appropriate. I’d say this is pretty substantial and hopefully sends the right message,” Miller expanded. “All we can do is wait and watch and see how we need to react next.
“Hopefully we don’t. Hopefully it cleans itself up.”
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