Bubba Wallace Says NASCAR's Confederate Flag Ban 'Felt Like a Win'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 12, 2020

Driver Bubba Wallace waits for the start of a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Martinsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at all its races, events and buildings on Wednesday, two days after Bubba Wallace called for the organization to do so. 

Wallace, who is the only black full-time driver in NASCAR's Cup Series, finished 11th at the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Ridgeway, Virginia's Martinsville Speedway on the same day after starting 23rd. He may not have won, but the 26-year-old said that race felt like a victory anyway.

"This was definitely the biggest race of my career," Wallace told reporters on a Zoom call on Friday (h/t Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic).

"There was so much historical impact and movement behind this race that we had just had that it just overpowered everything else that I've gone through.

"Yeah, it felt like a win."

Wallace had called for the Confederate flag ban during an interview with CNN's Don Lemon on Monday:

Alan Cavanna @AlanCavanna

Bubba Wallace on CNN Monday night “My next step would be getting rid of all Confederate flags” at NASCAR events https://t.co/3c76cl4h1T

Two days later, NASCAR produced the following statement:

"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. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties."

On Wednesday, Wallace's No. 43 car was painted in honor of the Black Lives Matter. It also called for compassion, love and understanding:

Alan Cavanna @AlanCavanna

Here is the car that @BubbaWallace will race at @MartinsvilleSwy https://t.co/8ujMDthHc9

Wallace also wore an "I Can't Breathe" shirt in reference to the killings of Eric Garner in 2014 and George Floyd on May 25. Both were seen on video saying they couldn't breathe while being restrained in police custody.

As for the race, Wallace got off to a hot start and even lingered in the top 10 for a while before falling back to 11th. It was his fourth top-15 finish of the 11-race season.