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Did Alex Bowman really save Bubba Wallace from NASCAR's wrath? What's your take on this?

Bubba Wallace turned a P31 finish from last year’s Chicago Street Race to a P13 this year. It was his best outing yet on a road course in 2024. However, due to Alex Bowman spinning Wallace’s number 23 Toyota, he reacted by door-slamming the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s Chevrolet on the cool-down lap. Thus a penalty from NASCAR looms, but can Bowman’s words after the race help out Wallace?

The 23XI Racing owner Denny Hamlin finished P30 himself once the chaos of another rain-delayed Chicago Street Race finally came to an end. However, keeping his own woes aside, he wanted to discuss the more pressing issue of Wallace’s actions with his friend and co-host, Jared Allen, on his ‘Actions Detrimental’ podcast on 9 July.

Denny Hamlin analyzes Bubba Wallace’s controversial move on Alex Bowman

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This drama between Bowman & Wallace began when the duo checked up right next to each other exiting the pit road on wets for a “logjam” caused at the front of the pack. As the field took a right onto Lake Shore Drive off Turn 2, Bubba Wallace was spun around due to contact with Bowman’s #48 on a wet track. Wallace was running inside the Top 5 before he lost integral track position because of the incident. That incident likely played in Wallace’s mind when he retaliated against Alex Bowman once the race was over and the cars made their routes to their respective haulers.

Poll of the day

Do you think Alex Bowman’s actions saved Bubba Wallace from harsher NASCAR penalties?

Absolutely

Maybe

Not at all

Who cares?

The fallout from this aggression has not been as kind to Bubba Wallace (as expected). But what does his team owner, Denny Hamlin, think of these developments?

Hamlin, on the podcast, said, “I don’t know how NASCAR is going to view it. So, how this is different than let’s say Carson Hocevar is that: one is under yellow, and under yellow, that means that there is an unsafe condition and there are safety vehicles on the racetrack. At the end of the race, there are no safety vehicles on the racetrack and it’s not an unsafe condition. You know, there’s not a driver’s safety issue. So I don’t know how they’ll view it…”

During the Ally 400 on June 30,  Carson Hovecar deliberately spun Harrison Burton while under caution. This led to a fine of $50,000 and a penalty of  25 driver points. However, Hamlin thinks NASCAR may be lenient on Wallace. “He took a swipe at Bowman and you know I think Bowman underplayed it a little bit in the media. I don’t know how they’ll view it. I think that they could go either way… because it’s just different than wrecking someone under caution,” said Hamlin while contemplating Wallace’s potential punishment.

Hamlin also thinks that when it comes to NASCAR’s decision, “the answer is somewhere in the middle,” and the Hocevar incident differs from Wallace’s simply because of the safety aspect.

Hamlin elaborated, “There’s no safety vehicles out there, everyone’s running slow speeds. He’ll probably get a talking to [from NASCAR], maybe get a fine or something. But that’d be all that I think comes of this.”  However, Jared Allen brought a different perspective to Hamlin when he read Bowman’s quotes to NBC’s Nate Ryan.

Talking about the incident after the race, Bowman said, “NASCAR should not penalize Bubba. He barely hit me. Everything was fine and it was plenty deserved.” Bowman also apologized for the incident and claimed that he reached out to Wallace to clear the air. How can these comments help Wallace avoid a bigger punishment? Well according to Hamlin, Elton Sawyer (NASCAR Senior VP), “more than likely” reach out to both the drivers and have a conversation about what went down. If Bowman maintains his stance, there is a chance the 23XI driver might get off easy.

Noting the #48 driver’s sportsmanship, Hamlin said, “He’s feeling good and I think that he’s taken the high road there knowing that he made a mistake early on. And he’s trying to repay that mistake through comments in the media.”

Jared Allen then interrupted Hamlin to make a sly remark mid-sentence, saying “It’s easy (to take the high road) when you just won.”

We all saw Alex Bowman make everyone on his race team, especially the owner, Rick Hendrick, proud in Chicago. After all, with his eighth Cup win, Bowman has ensured that all 4 of Hendrick Motorsports Chevys will enter the playoffs. As such, there was little reason for him to get involved in any controversy after the race.

Meanwhile, Wallace’s actions have garnered controversy, but Hamlin is standing by him and said that such incidents are more common in NASCAR than what people might think.

Post-race bumps are common, says Denny Hamlin

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During the conversation, Hamlin pointed out, “It’s just sometimes the camera’s on you. Sometimes the camera’s not. Most of the time the camera is not.” After all, it is barely child’s play to cover a NASCAR race from all angles to ensure the viewers receive updates on 36+ cars running the field on a given day.

USA Today via Reuters

Hamlin described in detail, “The people only see where the camera’s focused on that moment. And likely if it’s someone in 20s, something? They really don’t care about that contact. And so they’re not going to put it on TV. But this happens all the time, especially after races as well. You won’t be able to find one race that somebody didn’t go up and knock somebody sideways after the race was over to voice their displeasure. So it’s it’s very common. I don’t agree with it but I’m guilty of it as well.”

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Nevertheless, those involved in these controversial events await NASCAR’s verdict, which normally drops on Tuesday after ample dissection & careful review. Will NASCAR be as harsh as they were during the Hocevar situation? Only time will tell, as the calls of controversy surround Bubba Wallace yet again.

UPDATE: It looks like Bowman’s words had some effect. While NASCAR did end up fining Bubba Wallace $50,000 but did not penalize him any driver points as they did with Carson Hocevar for his rash move at Nashville.