NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace fired back at President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon after the president called on him to apologize for how he reacted to finding what appeared to be a noose in his garage.
Wallace, Nascar’s only black driver, last month said the “noose” was a hate crime toward him after he played a key role in getting the Confederate flag prohibited at rallies.
Trump, who considers the incident a “hoax,” criticized Wallace in a tweet on Monday morning and Wallace responded hours later by sharing a note on Twitter to the younger generation with the hashtag #LoveWins.
“Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate,” Wallace wrote.
“Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS.”
The FBI investigated the incident and about two weeks ago concluded that a pull rope resembling a noose had been tied in Wallace’s garage months earlier and that it was not a hate crime.
Over the course of the investigation, Wallace received an outpouring of support from drivers with Nascar, which banned the Confederate flag at its events in early June.
Though the Wallace incident and Nascar’s flag decision happened weeks ago, Trump’s tweet was the first time he has commented on both matters.
“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!”
After the FBI determined there was no evidence of a hate crime, Wallace told CBS he was most frustrated about “how they want to turn it into a hoax when I was just rational thoughts off factual information I was given.”
He added he believes people are trying to “dethrone” him and that he feels he is being “tested every day.”
Wallace also released a statement expressing “how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was.
“I want to thank my team, Nascar and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat,” Wallace stated.
“I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been.”
In his message on Monday, Wallace repeated his phrase about being tested.
“You will always have people testing you. Seeing if they can knock you off your pedestal,” Wallace wrote.
“I encourage you to keep your head held high and walk proudly on the path you have chosen.”
Nascar quote tweeted Wallace’s note along with the hashtag #WeStandWithBubba.
The racing association also issued a statement obtained by Racer magazine saying, “We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and 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,” the statement reads.
Earlier, Richard Petty Motorsports co-owner Andrew Murstein addressed Trump directly.
“I find it hard to believe that the President would send out such a misinformed tweet,” Murstein stated.
“Bubba has reacted in a truthful, professional, level headed and positive manner.”
On Monday, White House Press Secretary McEnany was asked on Fox News to comment on Trump’s tweet.
“What the president is making is a broader point that this rush to judgment on the facts, before the facts, is unacceptable,” McEnany said.
Trump earlier this year displayed support for Nascar and attended a race.
However, the president’s opinion of Nascar has changed as he continues to criticize people who have been removing statues, many of them of Confederate figures.
Regarding its decision to ban the Confederate flag at its events, Nascar stated that the presence of the flag “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”