Kyle Larson ‘not mad at Bubba’ but surprised at severity of penalty

The man who complained the most about Bubba Wallace’s intentional spin last week at Texas Motor Speedway also wound up being one of the most surprised at NASCAR’s decision Saturday to fine Wallace $50,000 and 50 driver points.

“Yeah, that was really strong, probably stronger than I thought it might be,” Kyle Larson said Saturday on NASCAR America. “You hate to see NASCAR be put into a spot to make a call like that. But we’re told to give 100 percent and I don’t know if intentionally bringing out a caution is 100 percent.

“I say that, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it. Like Bubba mentioned, he’s racing for himself out there. I understand. It’s not like I’m mad at Bubba Wallace, I’m just mad that an intentional spin caused a caution which affected my race and others. There was other guys that had a good shot at a win or good finish that were affected by it.”

Larson said NASCAR’s decision to penalize Wallace will give other drivers pause if they find themselves in similar positions and contemplate intentional spins during the course of a race to bring out a caution.

“It definitely sends a message to us drivers that if you do it, this is what could happen,” Larson said. “I think we all noticed that and probably with my luck, I’ll get a flat and have to make that decision. NASCAR is always in a tough spot on things like that.”

Larson vigorously complained after the race at Texas that Wallace had spun intentionally to bring out the caution. In so doing, it impacted Larson’s track position, putting him a lap down and leaving him with a 12th-place finish rather than possibly ending up with a top-five finish.

Larson backed up his statements Friday at Phoenix when he said that data taken from Wallace’s car backed up his contention that Wallace’s pin was indeed intentional.

“If the race plays out the way it should have, I would have had obviously a better chance to win,” Larson said. “At the time, I knew I didn’t need Harvick to have a good day or win.

”So when the caution came out and I did the wave around and looked up, Harvick is lined up third, I’m like ‘this is not good.’ It just went as badly as it probably could have for us.

“So that’s why I was so frustrated. It’s just everything that I didn’t need happen, happened. If Harvick doesn’t win and I end up in the top five, I’m within two points, probably, or less from making it into the final round. Now I’m 23 (points back). We need a great day or win, so we’ll see what we can do.”

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