The FBI determined last month that Wallace, who is Black and successfully lobbied NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events, was not targeted for a racist attack, after a crew member found the noose hanging from a garage handle at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway.
Investigators said the noose had been there since at least October ― before Wallace was using the stall ― and that it was used to pull the garage door down.
However, authorities made no accusations about a “hoax,” and Wallace had to defend himself against such baseless claims.
But that didn’t stop the president from attacking the driver.
“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!”
At the end of last month, NASCAR noted that it was the only garage-door pull-down that looks like a noose at its racetracks.
“The noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said. “Based on the evidence we had, we thought our drivers — that one of our drivers had been threatened, a driver who had been extremely courageous in recent words and actions. It’s our responsibility to react and investigate, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Wallace responded to the president’s tweet on Monday afternoon, calling on “the next generation and little ones following my foot steps” to “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill, disagreed with the president.
“I don’t think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for,” Graham told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on his radio program. “Even though it was a noose created to hold a door open, in the times we live, there’s a lot of anxiety. You saw the best in NASCAR. They all rallied to Bubba’s side. I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude rather than being worried it’s a hoax.”
Wallace finished ninth on Sunday in a NASCAR event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
NASCAR TV ratings, incidentally, increased dramatically right after the flag ban was announced, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.