Kyle Larson admitted to making an aggressive move into Turns 3 and 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and, as such, wasn’t surprised by the reaction of Bubba Wallace.
On lap 95, Larson dove into Turn 3 underneath Harvick and Wallace, who were racing side-by-side. Harvick lifted, but Larson kept at it and wound up side-by-side with Wallace off the corner. Although the two never made contact, Wallace bounced off the wall.
The 23XI driver then came down the track and hit the right rear of Larson’s car, which sent the reigning series champion spinning up the track, collecting Christopher Bell and hitting the outside wall.
Both Larson and Wallace climbed from their cars uninjured, with Wallace then walking down the track to the No. 5. Wallace dropped his helmet and started to shove and shout at Larson, who did not engage.
“It didn’t surprise me,” the Hendrick driver said. “I obviously made an aggressive move into [Turn] 3 and got in low and got loose and chased it up a bit. He got to my right front, and it got him tight and into the wall, and I knew he was going to retaliate.
“He had a reason to be mad, but his race wasn’t over until he retaliated. It is what it is. Just aggression turned into frustration and [retaliation].”
A day before the incident, Wallace’s teammate Kurt Busch announced he wasn’t returning to competition this season and would not race full-time next season — having been sidelined since July with a concussion.
Additionally, Alex Bowman did not race Sunday and will remain out for at least the next two weeks, also with a concussion. Harder hits on the drivers, particularly with rear-end crashes, have been a hot topic of conversation around the Next Gen car.
Given that, Larson was asked if retaliation at a high-speed racetrack, like what Wallace appeared to do Sunday, was acceptable.
“I think with everything that’s been going on here lately…I don’t think it’s probably the right thing to do,” said Larson. “But hey, we’ve all done it. Maybe not all of us, but I have. I’ve let the emotions get the best of me before, too. I’m sure he’s still upset, but I’m sure with everything going on, he’ll know he made a mistake in the retaliation part, and I’m sure he’ll think twice about it next time.
“Like I said, he had every right to be upset,” he continued said. “I’d rather him [push and shove] than tear up our cars in a dangerous way. Just is what it is.”