An early Monday morning tweet from President Donald Trump was directed toward Darrell Wallace Jr., and referenced the noose found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway last month.
Trump used his official Twitter account to ask if Wallace, the only Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, had apologized for what he called “another hoax.” A crew member from Richard Petty Motorsports discovered the noose on June 21 and alerted NASCAR, and Wallace was later informed of its existence from NASCAR President Steve Phelps.
Under COVID-19 restrictions, drivers do not have access to the garage area.
On June 22nd before the race at Talladega, the NASCAR garage rallied around Wallace by pushing his car to the front of the grid. The FBI confirmed the following day that object in question was a noose, but determined that it had been in the garage since last fall, and it was not a hate crime directed toward Wallace. NASCAR has been unable to determine who fashioned the noose or why.
Trump 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!”
NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races in early June.
Trump’s tweet drew some pushback from within the Republican party, with CNN correspondent Manu Raju tweeting the following response from Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina:
“Well, I don’t think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for… You saw the best in NASCAR. When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace they all rallied to Bubba’s side, so I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax.”
The tweet did not elicit a response from NASCAR in the hours immediately following, although Wallace used social media to issue his reply:
An executive from Fox Sports tweeted Monday that NASCAR’s ratings have been up since the sport returned in May.