The melee that ensued at the end of this weekend’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas will likely be governed by the drivers themselves at the circuit’s next road course.
But the physicality after the race? NASCAR has dealt a penalty for that.
Daniel Suárez was fined $50,000 by the sanctioning body on Wednesday. The violation was because he made “contact with another vehicle on pit road” during the cool-down lap after Sunday’s Cup race concluded, per NASCAR’s penalty sheet.
Just as the cars at the front were about to file into pit road, the 99 car accelerated to bump Ross Chastain out of his way and then knock into the bumper of Alex Bowman a few times. Suárez then promptly exited his car to talk to Bowman, and then he trudged over to Chastain (his TrackHouse Racing teammate) to exchange a few spirited words with him.
Suárez later said he was upset about how the drivers raced him during Sunday’s several wreck-riddled restarts during its triple-overtime finish.
“Everybody behind has to have (expletive) awareness that they cannot brake like there’s nobody in front,” Suárez told Jeff Gluck of The Athletic. “I just hate that I race people aggressive but clean, and then I get dumped like that. And I hate (Chastain) was the one that sent (Bowman) against me.”
Suarez made his displeasure with both Chastain and Bowman known post race as cars came down pit road. https://t.co/LBPtpbw6z6
— Jordan Bianchi (@Jordan_Bianchi) March 27, 2023
Suárez restarted fifth in the second overtime but then ultimately finished 27th.
Bowman, who finished third, explained to the Fox broadcast postrace what he and Suárez discussed.
“He just thought I drove in and tried to drive through him. I had the corner made,” Bowman said. “The only reason I was inside of the 99 was to protect from the 1. Then the 1 just hammered me in the corner, dumped me, then I ran into the 99, kind of cleaned him out.
“Daniel and I, we’ve been teammates in the past, raced together a long time. I respect the hell out of him. I’m sure he’s still not super happy. Just tried to explain that I wouldn’t race him like that, that I was shoved in there.”
On Tuesday, TrackHouse Racing owner Justin Marks went on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio and said that the emotional discussion between his team’s Cup drivers is “part of the competitiveness of the series.”
“I think Daniel was having a day that was shaping up for him to be able to have a great race. He was really focused hard on this race, and really felt like he had a real shot at winning,” Marks said. “And I think he was in a position to contend for it. And I think you compound all that, you’re hot, you’re tired. It kind of just hits the fan at the end of the race, and you see that emotion just boil over.
“But I’ll tell you: I’d rather have two guys mad about losing than two guys who get out of the car and go, ‘Oh well, we’ll go to Richmond.’”
The Cup Series picks up again at Richmond Raceway on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. You can watch it on Fox Sports 1.