Bubba Wallace Declines Interview With NBC, and Kyle Petty Doesn’t Sugarcoat What He Thinks About It
Last week after NASCAR announced a one-race suspension of Bubba Wallace for what happened at Las Vegas, Kyle Petty didn’t mince words about the penalty and how he thought the sanctioning body went too light in its punishment. This past weekend during the prerace show from Miami, where the 23XI Racing driver was not in attendance while serving his suspension, the NBC analyst echoed his previous sentiment and then directed his criticism straight at the driver for declining an interview and remaining silent on the matter.
Kyle Petty says NASCAR went too light on Bubba Wallace
Last week during one of his regular guest appearances on Motor Mouths, Kyle Petty reviewed the weekend’s race at Las Vegas, including the on-track incident and subsequent altercation between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson. When asked about NASCAR’s response and the penalty for Wallace, Petty didn’t hold back.
“He should have been suspended for the rest of the year. Rest of the year,” Petty said. “He drives for Denny Hamlin, who has been vocal about safety. His teammate (Kurt Busch), the only reason he’s in the 45 car is his teammate’s career was all but ended because of an accident in this car that the drivers have vocalized that it needs to be safer. He turns a guy in the right rear into the outside wall intentionally. Steering brake? That’s laughable.
“Turns a guy into the outside wall, then walks across the race track. First, you intentionally wreck somebody. That’s a suspension. He’s walking across the race track and cars are going by him on both sides. That’s not safe. That should be another suspension.
“Physically confronts a driver, shoves him. That’s a physical confrontation. If I do that on the sidewalk, I’m in handcuffs somewhere. So, he physically confronts this driver, shoves an official, doesn’t get in an ambulance, walks back to the pits, and then stands and bold-faced tells a fib. … The lesson should be the rest of the year, just the rest of the year. That’s just me.”
Petty calls out Wallace for silence after declining interview
During Sunday’s Countdown to Green prerace show at Miami, Kyle Petty again discussed the Bubba Wallace incident and penalty with Marty Snider and Steve Letarte. Petty repeated what he had said earlier that NASCAR should have suspended the 23XI Racing driver for the rest of the season and referenced how crew chiefs serve four-race suspensions for a loose wheel.
Interestingly, during that conversation, Snider mentioned how Wallace had declined a Zoom interview for the show. The host then asked Petty what he thought about the driver’s response this week, including his mid-week apology on Twitter.
“I applaud Bubba and I applaud 23XI for putting this out,” Petty said of the social media apology. “But in a world, and I’m cynical — so let’s just go ahead and say that — in a world of social media where we post everything, silence sometimes says more than the words that are written and we have heard nothing from Bubba Wallace since this incident happened.
“We have heard nothing publicly, until yesterday, Denny Hamlin finally spoke up and kudos to Denny Hamlin for speaking up on behalf of 23XI. But the silence from that camp has been deafening.”
Hamlin comments on Wallace situation
Petty referenced Hamlin’s comments from Saturday. In those remarks, the 23XI Racing co-owner talked about a range of subjects, including Wallace’s feelings since the incident.
“Obviously, he was certainly frustrated with the on track part of it, which I totally understand,” Hamlin told reporters. “Larson put him in a bad spot there. I’ve done it many times this year where I’ve kind of squeezed — that’s why William got so mad. These cars just coming off the corner have a weird air buffer that you get someone to the inside of you and it just kind of pushes your car up.
“I understand why he’s mad. I think he understands the bigger picture. And I kind of explained to him, it’s tough when you’ve got a big M on your back and you’re walking down the infield, just a bad look for us.”
There’s no denying what Wallace did on the track and his actions immediately after were not a good look for him, 23XI Racing, or NASCAR. And, at least according to Petty, the driver’s silence on the matter isn’t making it any better.
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