Bubba Wallace responds to Trump: 'Even when it's HATE from the POTUS.. Love wins'

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace on Monday called for Americans to meet hate with love after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE attacked the top racing league's only African American driver and falsely accused him of carrying out a "hoax" involving a noose found in his garage stall.

Just hours after being targeted in a tweet by the president, Wallace tweeted a statement in which he said to deal with "hate being thrown at you with love."

"Love over hate every day," Wallace said. "Love should come naturally to as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it's hate from the POTUS.. Love wins."

 

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Trump earlier on Monday lashed out at NASCAR and Wallace in a tweet citing the racing circuit's decision to ban Confederate flags from its facilities and saying Wallace should apologize over a controversy involving a noose found in a garage he had been assigned to in Alabama last month.

"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!"

An investigation by the FBI concluded that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime and that the noose had likely been in the garage for months. But NASCAR President Steve Phelps stressed in a statement that “the noose was real" and the racing circuit released an image to show it was not a hoax.

Wallace, who in 2018 became the first full-time Black driver in the top-flight NASCAR racing series since 1971, added in his message to Trump that "your words and actions will always be held to a higher standard than others."

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"You will always have people testing you. Seeing if they can knock you off your pedestal," he said. "I encourage you to keep your head held high and walk proudly on the path you have chosen."

NASCAR and Wallace gained national attention last month amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

The top racing league reported that the noose was found in the driver's garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Following the discovery, other drivers on the circuit walked alongside Wallace's car in a show of solidarity.

Despite the FBI ruling on the matter, NASCAR has defended the seriousness of the situation, with Phelps emphasizing in late June that officials saw "a symbol of hate" that was only present in Wallace's garage.

As part of its investigation, NASCAR officials asked each track on the circuit to walk their respective garages. Out of 1,684 garage stalls reviewed at 29 tracks, just 11 had a pull-down rope tied in a knot. Only one had a rope fashioned like a noose: in the garage designated for Wallace at Talladega. 

After the FBI released its findings, Wallace said that he was "relieved,” noting that he’d "gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been." He also said that it didn’t take away from the “show of unity” NASCAR showed after the incident. 

Multiple NASCAR drivers voiced support for Wallace on Monday following Trump’s comments, with Tyler Reddick tweeted that NASCAR didn’t “need an apology.” 

“We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support,” he said. 

Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time Cup series champion, shared on Twitter an image with Wallace’s team number and the phrase “#IStandWithBubba.”

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSeveral GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (R-S.C.), a vocal Trump ally, also defended Wallace, saying it “made perfect sense” NASCAR was concerned about the sight of a noose in the driver’s garage.

Amid the unrest following Floyd's death, Wallace was also vocal about the need for NASCAR to ban displays of the Confederate flag from its grounds. He also emblazoned "Black Lives Matter" across his No. 43 Chevrolet for a race in June.

NASCAR announced on June 10 that it would no longer allow Confederate flags on its properties or at its events, saying that its presence "runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment."

Trump's comments on NASCAR and Wallace come as he continues to speak out over attempts to remove Confederate and other historical monuments across the nation. 

Updated at 3:41 p.m.