gettyimages-1244028586-2.jpg
Getty Images

NASCAR announced a suspension of driver Bubba Wallace for one race following his actions at the South Point 400 in Las Vegas on Oct. 16. Wallace wrecked Kyle Larson before shoving him in the infield after Larson pushed him into the wall on Lap 94.

Coming out of Turn 4, Larson drove Wallace up the track and into the wall. That's when Wallace's No. 45 car turned and clipped the back end of Larson's No. 5 car. That caused both drivers to go spinning out on the track, and Christopher Bell's vehicle became collateral damage in the wreck.

In its official announcement, NASCAR said Wallace violated Rule 4.4.C, which prohibits "intentionally wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result."

Speaking on SiriusXM, NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O'Donnell explained that they felt Wallace's actions crossed the line, as it was a "dangerous act" that put other competitors at risk.

"We believed that it was a heat of the moment action that took place," O'Donnell said. "I think you saw through Bubba's statement if he had to do that all over again, I think maybe it would be a different circumstance. ... We just felt it crossed the line and we really had to react, because it's an action that we don't want to see going forward.

"I know fans and people like to compare the what-ifs or what happened in the past, and for us this was a reaction based on what took place Sunday and what we don't want to see going forward in races that take place from the competitors and want to draw that line and be as clear as we can for our competitors of where we stand."

Wallace is the first Cup Series driver to be suspended for intentionally wrecking another competitor since 2015, when Matt Kenseth was parked for two races after he came back on track with a damaged racecar to ram Joey Logano into the wall at Martinsville as payback for a previous incident between the two at Kansas. While NASCAR has not always issued suspensions for intentional crashes, the sanctioning body has been known to intervene if a driver's actions rise to a particular level of egregiousness as Wallace's did.

Once Wallace and Larson came to a stop in the infield, Wallace ran over to confront Larson. The two drivers exchanged words and got into a shoving match before NASCAR officials separated them.

Wallace has since released an apology on social media. Not only did Wallace apologize to Larson, but he also included Bell, who now finds himself in a hole in the Round of 8 after the wreck abruptly ended his day in Las Vegas.

"I want to apologize for my actions on Sunday following the on-track incident with Kyle Larson and the No. 5 car. 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."

In a separate statement, 23XI Racing said that it accepted Wallace's suspension, noting that the team expressed its disapproval to their driver regarding how he handled the situation. John Hunter Nemechek will drive the No. 45 Toyota in place of Wallace this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Speaking to reporters at Homestead, team co-owner Denny Hamlin indicated that Wallace has also been disciplined internally. The exact nature of the discipline was not divulged.

"Obviously we didn't approve of the way he reacted there, obviously support NASCAR's decision. It was just not (a) good look for our team," Hamlin said. "He's got to learn, and I truly believe if he had to do it all over again, he would do it different. ... What was a shame is he's made such huge strides since Nashville as a driver, and he's a perennial top 10-running guy now.

"It's a shame because people aren't gonna focus on how much better of a driver he's gotten through the year. They're gonna focus on this one incident, this one millisecond in time, that he made a bad decision. And so it'll just take some time for him to change that narrative."