President Donald Trump criticized NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace in a tweet on Monday morning, calling on him to apologize for an incident where a pull rope fashioned like a noose was found in his garage before a race, leading to an investigation from the FBI.
Trump accused Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver, of creating a hoax and also criticized the league itself for its “Flag” decision, referring to NASCAR banning the Confederate flag from races.
“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR driveras & 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!”
On Monday afternoon, Wallace responded, although it was in the form of advice to others about people who try to knock you down with an overarching message: Love wins.
"You will always have people testing you. Seeing if they can knock you off your pedestal," he tweeted. "I encourage you to keep your head held high and walk proudly on the path you have chosen. Never let anybody tell you you can't do something! God put us all here for a reason. Find that reason and be proud of it ... All the haters are doing is elevating your voice and platform to much greater heights.
“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.”
A spokesperson for NASCAR tweeted that the sport continues to stand by Wallace, and added that NASCAR's FOX ratings are up eight percent since its return on May 17, and that NBC's ratings from Sunday's race in Indianapolis was up 46 percent from the same race last year.
Wallace has received a significant amount of support from the sport after deciding to paint Black Lives Matter on his car and successfully lobbied against the use of the Confederate flag at races.
On June 21, ahead of a race scheduled at Talladega Superspeedway, a Richard Petty Motorsports crew person found and reported what appeared to be a noose hanging from the garage assigned to Wallace.
Amid the investigation, NASCAR drivers rallied around Wallace and pushed his car before a race as a moment of solidarity.
The FBI later determined that there was no hate crime, but rather a pull rope fashioned like a noose had been in that garage since October.
Photo evidence showed that the rope was indeed shaped like a noose.
Both Wallace and NASCAR accepted the FBI’s findings, and Wallace said that he was “relieved” he was not the target of a hate crime.