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Push comes to shove after Wallace, Larson tangle at LVMS

Updated October 17, 2022 - 9:23 am

Other than a couple of minor spins, it had been an uneventful weekend as far as crashes, twisted sheet metal and bruised egos until the 94th lap of Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

But by that time, Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace were ready to rumble.

Larson made an aggressive move in Turns 3 and 4 and banged into Wallace, who had run up front for much of the day. Wallace bounced off the wall, but as the cars continued down the front straight, he appeared to retaliate and sent Larson spinning hard into the outside barrier.

Championship contender Christopher Bell was taken out in the collateral damage.

Before the race, Wallace had posted a selfie of himself and guest pace car driver (and Raiders wide receiver) Davante Adams. “Got immediately shoved after this pic” Wallace joked in reference to Adams pushing a cameraman out of his way after the Raiders lost at Kansas City last Monday night.

After the combatants emerged from their wrecked cars, Wallace shoved Larson not once but five times. Unlike what appeared to happen on the track, Larson did not retaliate.

“When you get shoved into the fence deliberately, trying to force me to lift, the steering was gone,” said Wallace, who refused to admit he took out Larson on purpose.

“I know I’m kinda new to running up front, and he didn’t lift, either, and now we’re junk. Piss-poor move on his execution. He knows what he did was wrong.”

He did, and Larson accepted the blame for not giving Wallace enough room exiting the corner. It was the aftermath — getting hooked into the wall — that he didn’t much care for.

“I think that with everything that has been going on with head injuries (as a result of crashes) and all that, it’s probably not the right thing to do,” said the 2021 Cup Series champion, who was eliminated from title contention last week at Charlotte. “But we’ve all done it. Well, maybe not all of us, but I have. I’ve let emotion get the best of me, too. “

This time, Wallace’s emotional response also knocked a championship contender — and fellow Toyota driver — out of the race and perhaps out of title contention.

“We’ll see if we can pull another rabbit out of the hat,” said Bell, who was forced to win at Charlotte in the final Round of 12 race to keep his title aspirations alive heading into Las Vegas.

Now he probably will have to do it again in one of his next two starts to punch his ticket to the championship race in Phoenix on Nov. 6.

“That’s sports,” Wallace said about putting Bell behind the 8-ball again.

South Point renews

The South Point announced a multiyear extension of its title sponsorship of the playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Terms were not disclosed, though Brendan Gaughan, the former NASCAR competitor and son of South Point owner Michael Gaughan, explained the deal in a way most in the media could understand.

“I want you all to look outside the window right there,” Gaughan said as prerace festivities commenced in the grassy knoll dividing the racetrack from pit road and a crowd estimated at 45,000 settled into their seats. “I don’t think you can fit a larger South Point logo across that grass. You can’t do it.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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