Trump slams NASCAR for Confederate flag decision

President Donald Trump with First Lady Melania Trump speaks before the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on AMNY.com

United States President Donald Trump headed back to social media to go after NASCAR on Monday morning, questioning the character of the organization’s only black driver in its top tier, slamming the decision of removing Confederate flags from events, and going after its television ratings.

Has Bubba Wallace 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?” President Trump wondered. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”

On June 21 at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, one of Wallace’s crew members — not Wallace himself — found a noose hanging in the No. 43 car’s garage ahead of the Geico 500. Wallace was later informed about the noose after its discovery.

NASCAR launched an investigation, which included the FBI, where it was deemed that the noose was a garage pull that had been tied since last year, well before Wallace and his team was assigned to that garage. Considering he was not the one who found the noose or blew the whistle on it, the idea of having him apologize is a peculiar one.

In the days prior to the FBI’s findings, Wallace received an outpouring of support from the NASCAR community, including fellow drivers pushing his car to the front of the field.

The 26-year-old has been vocal in speaking out against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis PD custody, displaying a custom paint job on his car devoted to the Black Lives Matter movement. He also successfully pushed NASCAR to eliminate the flying of Confederate flags at its races and events — a decision that has received plenty of pushback in recent weeks, including a plane that flew over Talladega a day after the noose was found in Wallace’s garage reading “Defund NASCAR” with the old Civil War symbol.

Nicknamed the “Stars and Bars,” the Confederate flag represents the southern, pro-slavery opposition of the United States during the Civil War.

“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors, and our industry,” a statement from NASCAR’s decision read last month.

Contrary to President Trump’s remarks, NASCAR’s decision to ban the flag actually saw an initial boost in television ratings. Directly following the Confederate flag’s removal, NASCAR’s Cup race from Martinsville, Virginia, on FS1 saw a 104% boost in the TV ratings compared to last season’s race there, per Fox Sports Executive Vice President Michael Mulvihill. 

Mulvihill added that since NASCAR’s return from the pandemic on May 17, viewership on Fox has been up 8%.

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