President Donald Trump said that Bubba Wallace owes an apology to the NASCAR drivers who supported him after a rope fashioned as a noose was found in Wallace’s garage at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway last month.
Drivers helped to push Wallace’s car to the starting line of the Geico 500 race on Monday, June 22, in a show of solidarity one day after NASCAR announced that a noose had been found in Wallace’s garage stall.
“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?” Trump tweeted on Monday, July 6. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
NASCAR driver Tyler Reddick responded to Trump’s tweet on Monday and said an apology from Wallace wasn’t necessary.
“We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support,” wrote Reddick in a now-deleted message.
Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver, has been using his platform to support protests that began after the slaying of George Floyd, the Black man who died as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck during a Memorial Day arrest.
One way that Wallace showed support was by wearing a shirt in June that said “I Can’t Breathe” at NASCAR’s Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Wallace also asked NASCAR that same month and pushed to have the Confederate flag banned at all of their events, which the company did shortly after.
NASCAR contacted the FBI after the rope was spotted, and it was quickly determined that it had been in the garage since October, before anyone could know the garage would be assigned to Wallace.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked about Trump’s tweet during an appearance on Fox News on Monday, July 6.
During the interview, she brought up Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying about being attacked in January 2019 in Chicago by Trump supporters who yelled racial and homophobic slurs.
“This rush to judgment before the facts are out is unacceptable,” said McEnany. “We saw it in the Jussie Smollett case and we saw it in this case.”
Wallace spoke with “The View” on June 23 and said some would use the FBI’s findings as a way to uphold their racist beliefs.
“It’s simple-minded people like that, the ones afraid of change, they use everything in their power to defend what they stand up for instead of trying to listen and understand what’s going on,” he said.
Wallace also referenced his detractors on Instagram last month while saying that some good came out of the rope incident.
“It’s been an emotional few days,” he wrote on June 24. “First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was. I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat.”
“Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all,” added Wallace.
NASCAR’s President Steve Phelps said the company will keep investigating the rope incident.