NASCAR fans being passionate in favor of — or against — certain drivers is nothing new. But in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s opinion, the vitriol directed at driver Bubba Wallace is at a whole other level.
“I will tell you, man, Bubba Wallace puts up with more (expletive) than anybody deserves,” Earnhardt recently said on his podcast, “The Dale Jr. Download.”
Earnhardt recounted his experience at Darlington Raceway earlier this month, when an almost universally celebratory moment honoring NASCAR history turned sour when Wallace was introduced.
“It’s this moment where everybody, you would think, that it would be a moment where you’d behave,” Earnhardt said on his podcast, as transcribed by FoxNews.com. “Everybody for the most part is just cheering. There’s a couple, you know, they give a couple people a hard time, Denny (Hamlin) and all that. A smattering of boos. Nothing crazy.
“But Bubba gets introduced and walks across the stage and there’s this guy right in front of me and Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth and everyone else there, screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Go home! Go home! Go home!’ over and over, as loud as he could.”
Wallace is a capable NASCAR Cup Series driver, but he’s far from the best, which is why the level of hate he receives feels so out of place. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and others were among the most hated drivers in the sport for years — mostly because they won a lot and didn’t care who they upset while doing it.
Wallace has two career Cup series wins and no championships, but as the only Black driver in the top series, he seems to get as much backlash as far superior drivers. Just this past weekend, a fan jumped onto the No. 23 Toyota’s radio frequency and broadcast, “Go back to where you came from, you (expletive). You’re not wanted in NASCAR.”
To be fair, Wallace also appeared to flash the middle finger during a TV interview — something that didn’t sit well with many fans on Twitter.
Regardless, the treatment feels unjustified in Earnhardt’s eyes.
“I thought, man, that’s one day in Bubba’s life,” he said on the podcast. “And I was thinking, I know there’s people out there who have hated Kyle Busch and hated other drivers, and they probably have said some nasty things. But it just made me really disappointed.”
Wallace’s 23XI Racing team sits 15th in the standings heading into the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, and is line to qualify for the Cup series playoffs.