CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman’s roundabout path to the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was capped by a trip to the infield care center and an abrupt post-race confrontation by new rival Bubba Wallace.
Wallace walked from his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet after the race and leaned down to confront the ailing Bowman before splashing a drink in his face. Wallace stormed off as Bowman continued to receive medical attention after gutting out a season-saving second-place finish in the Bank of America Roval 400.
The tensions boiled over after two on-track incidents, including one on the first lap and another caused by an intentional bump by Bowman on Lap 42. Wallace was still fuming, some 60-plus laps after their final clash.
“He don’t like to race. He just runs over everybody,” Wallace told NASCAR.com as he left the track. “He gets to Lap 1 and he runs over me and the 3 (Austin Dillon) into the back chicane. We’re back there in the trunk, man. Just take it easy for a lap. He had a fast car and he just run over us. Shoot us through the chicane and then we get a penalty for it. Every time he gets to me, he just runs over me.
“Smooth move of playing the sick card so I couldn’t bust him in his mouth.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 29, 2019
Bowman started at the rear of the field after an incident in final practice, and he had trouble shortly after the green flag, overcooking the backstretch chicane and making contact with Wallace’s car as he spun. Both cars drew penalties for missing the chicane.
The latter issue stemmed from Wallace making a middle finger gesture on multiple laps, with Bowman reaching a tipping point again in the backstretch chicane. After several corners of close-quarters racing, Bowman nudged Wallace’s car into a spin that placed him backward into the outside retaining wall.
After Bowman was released from the infield care center, he tried to explain their back-and-forth.
“I don’t know if he was mad about the first lap or what but obviously, that was just a mistake,” Bowman said. “Then I got flipped over for every single straightaway for three laps. I got flipped off by him for three or four laps in Richmond so I was just over it. I gotta stand up for myself at some point, right? Probably wouldn’t have gotten wrecked if he had his finger back in the car.”
Bowman also responded to Wallace’s post-race splash: “I probably shouldn’t repeat what he said to me, but nothing classy by any means. I mean, I get it, I’d be mad, too, but he put himself in that spot.”
Bowman’s crew chief, Greg Ives, told NASCAR.com that the high range of emotions was understandable.
“I mean, that’s what racing does,” Ives said. “It’s unfortunate that we got into Bubba there at the start. Definitely wasn’t intentional and then some other altercation happened off the chicane. That’s emotions for you. Last week, we got wrecked by the 3 and had a bad week. You know, we’ve got to put that behind us. That’s not usually how we race and it’s unfortunate that it had to happen. I know those race teams are trying as hard as they can, and it’s unfortunate we got into him.”