AVONDALE, AZ – Kyle Larson opened up Pandora’s box last weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was irate at fellow Chevrolet driver Darrell Wallace Jr. for what he thought Wallace purposely spun his No. 43 Chevrolet exiting Turn 2 when he had an issue on track in the closing stages of the AAA Texas 500.
See, Larson, his teammate Kurt Busch and a few others had just hit pit lane for their second to last stops of the day. On track, Wallace developed a flat tire and spun around as a result. When NASCAR elected not to throw a caution, it appeared that Wallace purposely spun again to get one.
This isn’t a new concept unfortunately, but it royally screwed Larson. The caution pinned him a lap down, so instead of ending the sequence in the top 10 where he began it at, he had to take the wave around to get back on the same lap as the leaders but was barely in the top 20.
It could have been a maneuver that cost Larson a shot at the championship next weekend in Homestead. Larson, is 23 points behind the cutoff line entering the Round of 8 cutoff race this weekend at the ISM Raceway. That deficit could be around 15 points if that Wallace doesn’t purposely spin in his mind.
Larson, called the move “bs” last Sunday evening. On Monday, Larson and his team went to look at the data to see if their thinking about Wallace was right. On Friday in Phoenix, Larson said that the data proved Wallace spun on purpose.
In fact, Larson said that not only does he think Wallace spun on purpose, he doesn’t think Joey Logano did so a week earlier at Martinsville.
“Like Sunday” Larson joked about if he gets mad at an issue when he thinks someone brought out a caution on purpose. “I know people have said that Joey (Logano) spun out at Martinsville on purpose but I don’t think he did. The tires are different there. You don’t have an inner liner like Texas.
“So it’s much easier to run on a flat at Texas than it is at Martinsville. I don’t really know if he spun out on purpose there or not. I mean just for shits and giggles, we looked at Bubba’s (Wallace) data the next day and you can definitely see, because we have S&T where you have that digital car where you can see him swerving, he turns right and then at the same time he turns left and stabs the throttle and spins out. It’s whatever at this point.”
The reason drivers could spin on purpose to get a caution is simple – they can get a yellow flag pit stop for repairs rather than one under green flag conditions. If Logano had to pit under green in Martinsville, he’d be in a different scenario this weekend. He never lost a lap following his incident and would finish in the top 10 that day. If he doesn’t bring out a caution though, he’d finish multiple laps down and likely not be holding the final cutoff spot right now.
That’s the biggest reason as to why drivers do this. To that though, Kyle Busch doesn’t think this is something that necessarily needs policed. It’s something that they’re all guilty of and could have big ramifications if something gets addressed.
See, it’s hard to prove intent and at what point does NASCAR alter a race for penalizing someone that really had an issue.
“I think what (Kyle) Larson said was right,” said Busch. “We’ve all been guilty of it and we all may need that situation arise at some time again. It may or may not benefit us and it may or may not screw other people. I think frankly why we’re still talking about it is because nothing is being done about it and you all want to see something done about it. Some of us drivers don’t really care.”