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today is Jan 31, 2023

The sight of retaliation in NASCAR is, unfortunately, nothing new. One aggrieved driver will always somehow manage to find the guy who has put their nose out of joint and make him pay by ruining his race, or sometimes even season. The 2012 incident between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer is now an icon of the genre as Bowyer set about chasing Gordon through the paddock to their motorhomes to, putting it kindly, have a chat about what had just happened on the Phoenix track. However, intentional retaliation is downright dangerous and that's why Bubba Wallace's actions during the Las Vegas Playoff race warrant severe sanctions from NASCAR itself. After winning stage 1, Wallace was squeezed into the wall by the #5 of reigning champion Kyle Larson - who claimed to get loose (understeer in Formula 1 parlance). Both managed to keep going - but Wallace then immediately floored it and wrecked Larson at over 150mph by tagging his right-rear quarter panel. This sent both into the outside wall once again - clipping the unfortunate Christopher Bell - whose Playoff hopes were dented, much like his Toyota Camry. Herein lies the big problem for Wallace - given all that has happened with rear impacts in the 2022 Cup Series season and drivers believing the NextGen car needs severe safety work, to deliberately put a rival in that position and potentially cause a concussion is a severe mark on his record. His teammate, 2004 champion Kurt Busch was forced to retire from full-time racing at Vegas following a qualifying crash at Pocono earlier in the summer left the veteran with concussion. Alex Bowman had an innocuous accident at Texas - but missed the final two races in that Playoff round after also sustaining a concussion. As for the fight that ensued, Wallace did not cover himself in glory here either. He had a good chunk of time to calm down before approaching Larson - instead throwing his elect down and shoving the 2021 champion. NASCAR says it will investigate - Wallace claims he had broken steering - but a second half of the season full of so much momentum has been ruined. 23XI Racing has finally got its act together, after early season troubles, including a strong win in Kansas. Wallace is not a driver with a track record of incidents like this, but it is a severe dent to his reputation, and was promptly called out live on the NBC broadcast by Dale Earnhardt Jr - a driver into who hard, but fair racing was instilled by his father.