NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace has made headlines for months as the unofficial spokesman for NASCAR in the national conversation on racial injustice and police brutality. Wallace also found himself recently in the political spotlight after President Trump criticized him and told him to apologize for his recent actions. Lately, Wallace has been more withdrawn from the spotlight. Not because he doesn’t have anything to say. He’s letting his actions on the track and others speak for him.
President Trump criticizes Bubba Wallace on Twitter
Bubba Wallace was surprised on July 6 when he found himself in the Twitter crosshairs of the President of the United States. Oddly, the President was criticizing the NASCAR driver for an event that had happened two weeks earlier when a noose-like rope was discovered in the driver’s garage before a race.
“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. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
The reference to the “flag decision” pertained to NASCAR’s decision weeks earlier to permanently ban all confederate flags and memorabilia from NASCAR events at the suggestion of Wallace, who made the recommendation in a CNN interview. NASCAR announced the ban two days later.
Bubba Wallace and others respond to President
Bubba Wallace initially offered a thoughtful and uplifting response to the President’s tweet. “Last thing, always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS. Love wins.”
As the President’s tweet suggested, Wallace has had more than his share of supporters within the NASCAR community standing behind him each step of the way. Immediately following the Commander-in-Chief’s tweet criticizing Wallace, NASCAR Cup Series rookie Tyler Reddick put the President on blast.
“We don’t need an apology. We did what was right, and we will do just fine without your support,” Reddick wrote. The 24-year-old later deleted his tweet, but not before it was seen publicly and delivered a powerful message that no one—not even the President—will intimidate Wallace or any of the NASCAR family for standing up for what is right.
Wallace beating President Trump on the track
While Bubba Wallace has received unwavering support from the NASCAR community as well as those outside of the sport including LeBron James and others, on July 2, the President sent another message to Wallace and NASCAR with his sponsorship of the No. 32 car driven by Corey LaJoie. The sponsorship includes a new red, white, and blue paint scheme that features “Trump 2020” on the hood and on both sides of the vehicle.
At the Brickyard 400 in the first race with the new sponsorship and paint scheme, LaJoie finished 39th out of 40 cars. Wallace, obviously motivated by the fresh paint job, had one of his best performances of the 2020 season finishing ninth. The following week at Kentucky, LaJoie finished in 28th. Wallace finished one spot ahead at 27th.
For the season, LaJoie has a single top-10 finish and sits in the 29th spot of the season standings with 222 points. Wallace has four top-10 finishes on the year. He’s currently in 19th place with 328 points.
To Wallace’s credit, with all the publicity and added responsibility speaking out as the lone black driver on the Cup Series, coupled with defending himself against the President of the United States, he’s handled it well. While his ultimate goal each week is to make it to victory lane, he can find some consolation knowing he’s regularly defeating the President on the race track. His next goal is to build on that momentum and defeat him once again in November.