NASCAR made both literal and metaphorical statements regarding racial inequality ahead of Sunday’s (June 7) Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, while driver Bubba Wallace added his voice to the many athletes who are speaking up in light of current events.
Prior to the green flag, NASCAR stopped the entire Cup Series field on the backstretch and observed a moment of silence. The league then played a video featuring statements from several drivers while NASCAR President Steve Phelps also made remarks addressing the need for change.
“Our country is in pain and our people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard. Our sport must do better,” Phelps said. “Our country must do better.”
The display followed the league’s June 1 statement on social media declaring that their “commitment to promoting equality and inclusion continues and will never waver” and came as almost two weeks have passed since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
I will listen and learn pic.twitter.com/XWgautn4cy
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) June 7, 2020
Phelps wasn’t the only person with something to say before the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Wallace — the only African-American driver in the Cup Series — also drew attention for wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on the starting grid. It was emblazoned with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe,” referring to Floyd’s last words before he passed.
Wallace has been speaking openly on current events, telling ESPN’s Marty Smith earlier in the day that NASCAR drivers were “starting to dive into the tough questions” about social justice and racial equality.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) June 7, 2020
The race also featured a lap 113 tribute to the military.