Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in NASCAR's top racing series, responded to the "hate from the POTUS" on Twitter, following a claim from President Donald Trump the driver played a "hoax" when he found a noose in his garage.
"Love should come naturally as people are taught to hate. Even when it's hate from the POTUS," Wallace tweeted Monday.
Wallace successfully pushed for NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at all events and properties. Soon after, he reported finding a noose hanging in his garage.
After an investigation, the FBI said the noose has been hanging in the garage since at least last October, before Wallace's team being assigned to it. It also ruled out the rope hanging as a hate crime.
Trump tweeted earlier Monday:
"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? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!"
"I've been racing all my life," Wallace told CNN. "We've raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. Whether tied in 2019 or whenever, it was a noose. It wasn't directed at me, but somebody tied a noose. It was — it is a noose."
It was the only garage pull out of 1,684 stalls at 29 inspected NASCAR tracks to be fashioned as a noose, The Associated Press reported.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps has bristled at suggestions the noose was a hoax. Wallace was shown a photograph of the noose, never personally saw it, and was told by NASCAR officials he was the victim of a hate crime.
NASCAR did not directly address the Trump tweet in a Monday statement.
“We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership,” NASCAR said. “NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.”
Andrew Murstein, co-owner of the Richard Petty Motorsports team that fields Wallace’s car, called Trump’s tweet “a late, misinformed, and factually incorrect statement.” He also said it was unwarranted and cited the photo NASCAR released of the noose.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, also backed Wallace in the dustup.
Graham said Wallace doesn’t have “anything to apologize for."
"Even though it was a noose created to hold the door open, in the times in which we live there's a lot of anxiety. So what did you see? You saw the best in NASCAR. When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace, they all rallied to Bubba's side. So I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax," Graham told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade on Monday.
Graham said it “made perfect sense” that Wallace was concerned about the noose found in his garage stall. He also defended NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag at its events.
"What I would tell people from outside of South Carolina that NASCAR is trying to grow the sport and one way you grow the sport is you take images that divide us and ask that they not be brought into the venue," Graham said of the Confederate flag ban also imposed by NASCAR.
The Associated Press and Newsmax's Marisa Herman contributed to this report.
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