U.S. President Donald Trump assailed the only full-time African American NASCAR race vehicle driver on Monday and sharply criticized the racing organization for its recent racetrack ban on the display of the Confederate flag.
President Donald Trump on Monday said NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace should apologize to those who stood beside him after his racing team discovered a noose in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway on June 21, describing the incident as a "hoax".
Last month, Wallace successfully pushed for NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at its events. NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the organization took immediate action after seeing the rope because he felt Wallace was being threatened.
"Even when it's HATE from the POTUS".
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany defended the president's decision to wade into the Wallace case, saying in an interview on Fox News Channel that, "The president's merely pointing out that we've got to let facts come out before we jump to judgment".
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents within a day of being informed of the noose-like rope found in Wallace's garage determined that it had been there since last October, months before Wallace was assigned the garage.
Bubba did not find the noose himself and NASCAR actually called the incident a hate crime initially. In February, he appeared at the season-opening Daytona 500 and took a lap around the track in the presidential limo.
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Wallace led the push for NASCAR to ban Confederate symbols at tracks.
By the time Wallace tweeted Monday afternoon, only a few people in the NASCAR industry had spoken out in his defense, including Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty Motorsports co-owner Andrew Murstein.
"I could of course go on and on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. The NASCAR community, and those in the know all stand by him". "We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support", Reddick said in the tweet.
One dissenting voice was that of former newspaper editor and current TV presenter Piers Morgan, who tweeted his former friend and accused him of race-baiting.
So at best what we're looking at is a awful misunderstanding in which Bubba saw a noose and was understandably shook.
There is also a subtle nod that he supports all the racists who love the confederate flag. However, a June 27 race at Pocono drew only 2.57 million viewers, narrowly avoiding NASCAR's all-time low audience for a Cup Series race on broadcast television.