Denny Hamlin finished fifth at Las Vegas on Sunday in the first race of the Cup Series Round of 8. However, neither Hamlin nor first race winner Joey Logano was the talk of the town.
The second-stage incident between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson ended with the 23XI Racing driver confronting and shoving the Hendrick Motorsports driver multiple times around the infield grass.
Footage of the heated confrontation can be seen below, posted to NBC’s NASCAR Twitter page.
Bubba Wallace started the Las Vegas race with tons of confidence. He would run the same race-winning car he had used at Kansas just a little over a month earlier. His bravado showed as the 23XI Racing car flashed speed early on, with Wallace driving it up to the front. He lead for 29 laps and won the first stage.
Early in the second stage, the No. 45 car dropped back to fifth, battling Kevin Harvick for position. Then, Kyle Larson tried to join the party going into Turn 3, diving down below Harvick and making it three-wide.
However, coming out of Turn 4, the car dropped back and the defending Cup champion began sliding up the race track. Wallace remained to his outside. Eventually, the 23XI Racing car ran out of room, colliding with the outside wall.
Denny Hamlin Weighs in On Wallace-Larson Dispute
The No. 45 careened off the fence and went straight into the right rear of the HMS car. This impact sent both back up the track into the fence, smashing against Christopher Bell in the process.
A few moments later, Wallace jumps out of his car and furiously storms over to Larson. He pushed him several times in the chest before being escorted away by a member of the safety team.
After the race, reporters visited with Hamlin, the three-time Daytona 500 winner, and talked about his race. One reporter then addressed the elephant in the room. They asked Kenny Hamlin about the confrontation between his driver and Larson.
Denny Hamlin never saw what happened. After the race, SiriusXM NASCAR’s Claire B. Lang caught up with the 23XI co-owner and asked him about the incident.
“I didn’t see it,” Hamlin said. “Everyone has asked me about it. I’m assuming it’s substantial. Those things are usually a driver-to-driver issue. I don’t usually get in the middle of it. I’m friends with both of them so I’d just encourage both of them to talk to each other.”
Hamlin’s relationship with Wallace is well-documented since they joined forces at 23XI before the 2021 season. The pair even appeared in a Post Malone music video last year. However, the JGR driver also has a close relationship with Larson. Last year, Hamlin let Larson to use his plane to get back and forth between a short-track event and the race at Indianapolis.