The Bubba Wallace story had largely died down in the NASCAR world. That was, of course, until the President of the United States decided to fan the flames Monday morning.
Donald Trump blasted Wallace in a tweet Monday, a week and a half after NASCAR revealed a photo of the rope pull tied in a noose in Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway the weekend before. An investigation determined the noose had been there at least since the fall and wasn’t a hate crime targeted at Wallace, the only full-time Black driver on NASCAR’s top circuit.
The entire thing, Trump alleged in his tweet, was a “hoax,” as the president also called on Wallace to apologize to his fellow drivers, who showed support for him after the noose was found.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
The Wallace quip aside, also tucked in that tweet, is an apparent condemnation of NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag from its tracks — or, as Trump says, the “flag decision.”
The decision to ban the flag came after Wallace called out NASCAR for allowing the flag to fly at races. Wallace’s plea for the flag to be banned came as racial tensions were at their highest amid worldwide protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. NASCAR announced the ban June 10. That night, they ran a race at Martinsville — and ratings were up.
Overnight ratings for last night’s NASCAR Cup race from Martinsville on FS1 are up +104% over the comparable race last season.
— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) June 11, 2020
Interestingly, the ratings for the first race after the noose was discovered at Talladega — a race run on Monday due to rain — ended up being NASCAR’s highest-rated Monday race since 2014. NASCAR’s ratings undoubtedly have benefited from being one of the only sports back as the nation’s biggest leagues continue their push toward a return amid the coronavirus. That being said, to say NASCAR is suffering its “lowest ratings ever,” as the president suggested, seems disingenuous at best.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Trump’s anti-NASCAR rant comes one day after Corey Lajoie, driving a car with a Trump 2020 paint scheme, crashed after just 15 laps Sunday at the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 in Indianapolis.