Bubba Wallace finished behind three drivers who were allowed to retain their positions after their involvement in a late incident during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway.
23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace recorded his second consecutive top five finish in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway after starting on the front row and overcoming an early poor pit stop.
But after the Goodyear 400 concluded, Wallace made it clear after the race that he was “pissed off” when he looked up at the scoring pylon and saw that three of the four drivers who beat him to the checkered flag were among those involved in a late incident.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, and RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski finished in second, third, and fourth place, respectively, after their involvement in an incident which started with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. and Team Penske’s Joey Logano making contact.
Wallace felt that he should have restarted ahead of those three drivers, which likely would have given him a better result and potentially even a chance to compete for the win.
When the caution light comes on, drivers are generally allowed to retain the positions they were in at the most recent scoring loop, provided they aren’t involved in the incident.
But Harvick, Elliott, and Keselowski were all involved in the incident, and they fell down the order because of it.
However, their involvement was relatively minor, they didn’t actually spin out, they slowed down to try to avoid the incident, and their cars weren’t damaged to the point where they could no longer keep reasonable speed.
So NASCAR allowed all three of them to retain their positions.
Because they had initially fallen down the order, this decision meant that they were allowed to pass several cars before the caution period ended.
The ensuing restart is when Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain and Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson came together. On the final restart, Harvick, Elliott, and Keselowski lined up from second through fourth place, which is where they finished behind race winner William Byron.
Wallace finished in fifth place.
As far as the 4, 9 and 6 getting their positions for the final restart … NASCAR kept them in their positions from the scoring loop before the caution came out because they slowed for the crash/caution as instructed and didn't spin as they kept reasonable speed.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 15, 2023
All things considered, NASCAR made the correct call.
There can certainly be an element of subjectivity when it comes to this particular rule, but they had no reason to penalize these drivers, considering the extent of their involvement in the incident was minimal.
Allowing them to retain the spots they were in when the caution came out was the right thing to do. But Wallace’s frustration is also understandable. From his point of view, when he had cleared the scene of the wreck, he was ahead of them, and that’s where he expected to remain. However, in a situation such as this, there are other stipulations to factor in.