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Wallace accepts blame for last-lap Talladega NASCAR Cup pileup

Bubba Wallace admitted that his aggressive blocking tactics on the final lap of Sunday's NASCAR Cup race at Talladega caused the ensuing multi-car pileup that presented victory to Kyle Busch.

Wallace was leading at the start of the final lap of overtime Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, when Ryan Blaney's Penske Ford got a strong run entering Turn 1 and attempted to pass.

Blaney went low and high and was blocked both times by Wallace’s 23XI Toyota. On the third block attempt, Blaney had seen enough and made contact with Wallace who was sent up the track and into the wall.

The incident collected several other cars and NASCAR was forced to throw the caution, which froze the positions of the cars. Busch was ahead of Blaney on the track at the time and was declared the winner, while Wallace was credited with a 28-place finish.

After Wallace drove his damaged car back to pit road, he was seen throwing his HANS device in disgust. However, when interviewed later at the infield care center, Wallace took responsibility for the last-lap wreck.

“I just got dumped by (Blaney),” he said when asked what happened.

“I threw a late block – close, close block. Not (Blaney’s) fault. I honestly thought that he would leave me high and dry going back around.

“Just hate it for the team. It’s just how it goes.

"That was our best – by far – plate race we’ve ever done, so hats off to the #23 group. A great day for us, just a crap result.

"I hate it I caused that one.”

Wallace (23) led until last lap crash with Blaney (12)

Wallace (23) led until last lap crash with Blaney (12)

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Despite showing speed capable of contending for wins in several races this season, Wallace has now failed to finish four of the season’s first 10 races, either by wrecks or an engine issue.

Wallace said he was surprised by how the end of the race played out, as it was relatively tame most of the day by Talladega standards.

“The way we were shoving and pushing (in overtime), we were getting each other out of whack instead of moving the momentum forward,” he said.

“Then when I got the move (to the lead), it was all about defending and you can’t let your guard down for one second or you end up here (at the care center).”

Blaney said: “It’s just you get big runs, take them when you can.

“I’m glad everyone’s okay, but in my mind, you kind of do a triple move like that, triple block, you can’t block three times. I don’t know. Runs are so big.

“As a leader, with Bubba trying to block, which is the right thing to do. But I think a lot of those, I mean, I got to go somewhere.”

Despite the second-place finish, Blaney was disappointed is losing out on what he thought was a good opportunity to pick up his first win of 2023.

“I hate that cars got torn up, I hate for us being so close to the win,” he said.

“I’m not blaming anybody. Just hard racing at the end of this thing. Unfortunate that cars got tore up and we missed out on another win.”

The incident followed a crash in the first overtime when Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson came together in front of Kyle Larson, spinning the 2021 Cup champion down onto the apron.

His Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet then shot back up the track, when Ryan Preece slammed into his passenger-side door.

The violent impact caused significant damage to Larson's car, and a door bar inside the cockpit could be seen pushed upwards and twisted after the crash.

"Thankfully, I'm okay," said Larson. "My car is absolutely destroyed. The cockpit is a mess.

"Just thankful that I'm alright and all that, but just a bummer. We put ourselves in position once again on a superspeedway, and the end results don't show it. Another wreck not of my doing on a superspeedway.

"Just hate it, but we'll keep getting better and eventually, it'll have to work out."

Both he and Preece were checked and released from the infield care centre. Preece said it was "definitely one of the hardest hits I've ever taken in my racing career".

NASCAR will be taking Larson's destroyed car back to the R&D Centre for further inspection.

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