AVONDALE, AZ – Good thing “Indy paid well” for Darrell Wallace Jr.,. because the driver for an underfunded Richard Petty Motorsports team was hit hard in the pocketbook on Saturday. Wallace, was fined $50k as well as penalized 50 points for his actions during last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Wallace, spun his No. 43 Chevrolet during the second to last pit sequence following a tire going down on his car. Most thought that Wallace had spun on purpose to bring out a caution. The reasoning for that is, it’s easier to make changes or repairs under yellow than it is during green flag stops.
Between Sunday and Friday, nothing was done to Wallace. Nothing could be done. While Kyle Larson said that their data showed it was obvious Wallace spun on purpose, it’s hard to gauge intent there.
Until the driver in question basically admits to it.
Wallace, talked to Dustin Long with NBC Sports following final practice on Friday night and virtually admitted that he spun on purpose. He said he’s watched others do it and until NASCAR does something about it, he’s not going to worry about it.
Wallace also went on to say that he doesn’t care about Larson or Chevrolet, he’s here to race for himself.
Well, that was enough for NASCAR to deem that he had intent to spin and docked him a heavy fine. That’s a lot for a driver who likely isn’t getting paid all that much. While NASCAR salaries are relatively unknown, this is a day and age in the sport where drivers aren’t getting paid what they used to.
Richard Petty Motorsports doesn’t have a ton of resources or funding, so it’s highly unlikely Wallace is making a whole lot into the six figure category this season. So, to be hit with a fine of $50k, it’s a lot for him.
Luckily, Wallace’s top five in the Brickyard 400 paid him well he said on Saturday.
But, is the penalty warranted? Is NASCAR setting an unwelcomed precedence here? Kyle Busch spoke to the media on this topic on Friday and admitted that most drivers have done this in the past and would do so again in the future. Is this something that he wanted to see policed? He basically said it’s a split vote in the garage. It’s going to be tough to enforce and just another rule NASCAR is going to have a hard time watching.
So, while I get that they didn’t make a penalty during the week, it’s hard to do so based off what a driver said to a media member. But, if he does admit guilt, NASCAR does have to come in and act too.
That’s why this is a slippery slope. You don’t have for sure data to fine him, but you had to wait until he said something. In the future, I can almost guarantee drivers aren’t going to say much to media on record because of the risk of a substantial fine. I mean, why would they?
If Wallace never spoke to Long, he’d have $50k extra in his bank account right now. If he kept his mouth shut, he’d have no worries. So, why would drivers open their mouths in the future?
Also, NASCAR now has to judge intent because you can’t fine one driver $50k and not others. This is just the tip of this iceberg.