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June 29, 2024

Bubba Wallace keeps focus on track after reported dispute with Aric Almirola

Bubba Wallace puts on his helmet before competing in a NASCAR event at Nashville.
James Gilbert
Getty Images

Bubba Wallace is keeping his mind on racing and ignoring any outside distractions.

According to a midweek report by The Athletic, Wallace and Aric Almirola had a physical altercation during a competition meeting among Toyota drivers ahead of last month’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Wallace races full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for 23XI Racing, while Almirola competes on a part-time basis for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series program.

The report stated Almirola was viewed as instigator of the dispute, and the 40-year-old has not competed since the incident took place as the result of a team suspension. Almirola is set to return to the team’s No. 20 entry in the July 20 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing did not return a request for comment on the situation. A Toyota Racing spokesperson also declined comment.

MORE: Cup standings | Nashville starting lineup

Wallace spoke briefly about the ordeal Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway but ultimately did not disclose what took place.

“They don’t want me to get into details to keep some people’s images good,” Wallace said. “I think I said enough at Charlotte last year, so all in all, life is good for me. That (expletive) happened over a month ago, and a lot of good’s come my way. And that’s what I’m focused on. I’m focused on getting our stuff turned back around. And you know, off the race track, I’m focused on my wife and baby boy that’s growing and growing. And so that’s all you can really ask for. So things are good for me off track. Not so much on track. That’s what we’re focused on right now.”

Denny Hamlin, team co-owner of 23XI Racing and full-time racer for JGR, also addressed the circumstances Saturday.

“I don’t really have a comment on it because I wasn’t there at the time,” said Hamlin, who qualified on pole for Sunday’s race at Nashville. “So I don’t know what all transpired. It’s all hearsay from my standpoint. And at 23XI, we let Joe Gibbs Racing handle it and they did what they saw fit. Again, I don’t know all the details because I didn’t want to get too much into the personal business, and I still don’t.”

As Wallace referenced, he and Almirola got into a separate altercation at Charlotte during the 2023 Coca-Cola 600. After exiting their cars during a rain delay, Almirola confronted Wallace, and the duo exchanged words, eventually escalating as Almirola shoved Wallace on the pit road. The race resumed without further issue between the two, but Almirola said he took issue with Wallace racing him “dirty.”

RELATED: Wallace, Almirola on 2023 scuffle

Wallace made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2017 by filling in for Almirola in the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports at Pocono Raceway while Almirola was sidelined with a back injury.

Almirola stepped away from full-time Cup racing at the end of the 2023 season after 12 full seasons, his career at the top level dating back to 2007. After spending his final six seasons in Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing driving its No. 10 Ford, Almirola reunited with JGR this season for a part-time Xfinity campaign, resulting in an April win at Martinsville Speedway. Before leaping to Cup, Almirola began his Xfinity career with Gibbs in 2006.

Contributing: Cameron Richardson