Dale Earnhardt Jr. wears a lot of hats, both personally and professionally. On weekends, he seamlessly transitions between his roles as JR Motorsports team owner and television broadcaster. This past weekend while wearing his announcer hat during the NBC prerace show, the NASCAR Hall of Famer and Jeff Burton talked about the penalty NASCAR meted out to Bubba Wallace.
During that conversation, Earnhardt bluntly called out the sanctioning body for its inconsistencies when it comes to penalties on retaliation and referenced his driver, Noah Gragson, for his move earlier this year at Road America, admitting that he thought NASCAR got it wrong.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. calls out NASCAR for inconsistencies
When Bubba Wallace hooked Kyle Larson and sent him into the wall at Las Vegas, fans immediately began debating what the punishment might be. Dale Earnhardt Jr. did just that on his podcast and suggested Wallace might receive a docking of 100 driver points and a $100,000 fine.
Last week, NASCAR announced there would be no docking of points or even a fine but a one-race suspension for the 23XI Racing driver to be served at Miami-Homestead. During this past weekend’s Countdown to Green prerace show at Miami, Earnhardt talked about the penalty and called out NASCAR for not being consistent.
“As an owner, I’ve had drivers suspended races for this exact same thing,” Earnhardt told Jeff Burton. “I’ve had them fined. But I’ve seen some things this year that have been inconsistent. I’ve seen some drivers retaliate. I don’t care about the speed of the track, the size of the track. Retaliation.
“You’re trying to change the mentality going forward for not Cup drivers. They know better. We’re talking about Truck drivers, Xfinity drivers. Have these same sort of penalties. Hey, I own Noah’s car, and I was surprised that he wasn’t sat out for a race.”
Noah Gragson retaliates at Road America
Earnhardt was referring to the Xfinity Series race in July at Road America when Noah Gragson didn’t like how Sage Karam raced him and made a hard right turn on a narrow straightaway into the No. 45 car, which turned both cars and set off a terrifying chain reaction.
When the dust and smoke cleared, there were 13 cars involved in the incident, including Brandon Brown, who had to be assisted out of his car and immediately fell to the ground trying to catch his breath.
Following the race, in which Gragson finished eighth, the JR Motorsports driver explained the situation and candidly admitted his action was in response to Karam hitting him multiple times.
Earnhardt has remained consistent
While NASCAR might not be consistent on its penalty rulings as Earnhardt suggested, the two-time Daytona 500 winner has been consistent in his feelings about Gragson’s Road America rage since it happened. Just a few days after the incident, Junior appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive Show,” and said it wasn’t acceptable. While he was disappointed in Gragson, he admitted surprise at how NASCAR didn’t respond during the race.
“Kind of surprised that NASCAR didn’t penalize him,” Earnhardt said. “I think that NASCAR doesn’t want to over officiate the races, but I think in some situations there’s some things that do cross over a line and I felt like that was definitely one of those situations where had I been in the booth during the race I think I would have had to bring Noah to pit road and hold him there for a while. So I was little surprised because I feel like the precedent has been set in the past.”
Earnhardt has been around NASCAR long enough to know that officials don’t care about precedent and they are consistently good at one thing — being inconsistent. The latest ruling on Wallace just confirms that.
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