U.S. President Donald Trump has publicly commented on the noose found in the garage area at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, June 21. In a tweet sent out the morning of July 6, he openly questioned whether driver Bubba Wallace had apologized for the results of the FBI investigation. Later that week, officials determined the noose found in his stall was not intentionally planted there as a hate crime.
Trump falsely claimed the Confederate flag ban has caused the lowest NASCAR ratings ever. In the two weeks since the Wallace incident, Talladega’s rain-delayed event was one of the most popular Monday races since 2014. The Pocono Raceway doubleheader that followed also avoided all-time lows.
— r/NASCAR on Reddit (@NASCARonReddit) July 6, 2020
The NASCAR Cup Series is down 1% in viewership this season through June 30 compared to 2019. That’s despite a rain-delayed Daytona 500, the sport’s Super Bowl, that caused a major decline in their top-rated event.
Later Monday, NBC revealed its audience for Sunday’s (July 5) Brickyard 400 was up 46 percent over 2019. See the Frontstretch TV Ratings page for more specifics on 2019-to-2020 comparisons.
The NASCAR community reacted immediately to Trump wading in on the topic. Drivers like Tyler Reddick voiced their full support of Wallace and their stance on social justice.
NASCAR has not yet commented on Trump’s tweet. Later Monday morning, Richard Petty Motorsports released a statement referring all inquiries to “the facts provided by NASCAR.”
“The June 25 statement provided by NASCAR and the following press conference by NASCAR President Steve Phelps answered all questions regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway,” the statement added. “At this time, the team does not have anything to add. Wallace has extensively exhausted the topic via a multitude of interviews in recent weeks. It is clear there is nothing more to say.”
The President’s criticism is an abrupt about face from his February visit to the sport’s Daytona 500. The crowd cheered his pre-race speech in an appearance that also included Trump giving the start your engine command for the Great American Race. It was the first NASCAR visit by a sitting president since George W. Bush in 2004.
“NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race,” Donald Trump said then as he showed his support. “What matters most [to them] is God, family and country.”
Trump’s 2020 campaign made NASCAR news this week when the Patriots of America PAC signed a nine-race sponsorship deal with Go FAS Racing’s No. 32 and driver Corey Lajoie.
Later Monday, Wallace made a post about the response to the President’s remarks on Twitter. Wallace did not apologize but instead issued words of advice. With the hashtag of #LoveWins, Wallace encouraged people to keep their heads high during this time. With the backlash of the noose being a hoax, he provided a message of surviving the trials and finding your purpose in life.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 6, 2020
NASCAR also released a statement about the tweet from President Trump. The sport remained consistent in their philosophy of inclusion, backing up Wallace as a driver and a leader in the garage.
“We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family,” the sanctioning body stated. “We commend his courage and leadership. NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.”
This story will be updated.
About the author
The author of Bowles-Eye View (Mondays) and Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 30 staff members as its majority owner. Based in Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild.
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