President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning about Bubba Wallace, asking if the only Black driver racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series had apologized for what the President called “another hoax.”
Although not specifically referencing what the FBI described as a noose found in Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway, Trump references how drivers and NASCAR officials stood behind Wallace during pre-race ceremonies before the June 21 race.
Trump, who gave the command to begin the Daytona 500 in February and his motorcade led the field on to the track, tweeted: “Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
The FBI determined that no hate crime was committed against Wallace because evidence showed that the garage tie-down rope was fashioned as a noose in October 2019 and no one could have known that Wallace’s team would occupy that stall eight months later. The rope in Wallace’s stall was the only one fashioned as noose.
The noose was discovered by a crew member of Wallace’s team. Because of NASCAR’s COVID-19 protocols, drivers are not allowed in the garage area.
Wallace was informed of the noose by NASCAR President Steve Phelps. NASCAR’s investigation did not determine who fashioned the rope in that manner or why.
Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson told drivers in a group chat that he planned to stand with Wallace during the national anthem before the Talladega race to show his support for Wallace. Former champion Kevin Harvick suggested that drivers push Wallace’s car from his spot in the starting grid to the front of the field.
Drivers did that and stood with Wallace for the invocation and national anthem. Many hugged him before the race. Richard Petty, who had not attended a race since NASCAR resumed during the COVID-19 pandemic, stood with Wallace. After the drivers pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the grid, Wallace climbed from the car and was overcome by emotion. Petty comforted Wallace by putting his arm around the driver.
NASCAR issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership. NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 6, 2020