Warning: This article contains an image of the noose.
United States President Donald Trump made false claims directed at NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, the Cup Series' only full-time Black competitor, in a Twitter post Monday.
Trump inaccurately claimed the noose found in Wallace's garage at Talladega Superspeedway last month was a "hoax" and wrongly stated that situation combined with NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate flag has caused television ratings to fall significantly:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
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!
After an FBI investigation into the Talladega situation determined the noose had been in the garage since last year and that a federal crime hadn't been committed against Wallace, NASCAR provided an image to show the pull rope in the driver's stall was indeed fashioned into a noose at some point on or before October 2019:
Wallace posted a response on Twitter to Trump's comments:
In addition, Jimmie Johnson posted in support of Wallace on his Twitter account:
Meanwhile, Tadd Haislop of Sporting News reported the Cup Series' ratings more than doubled (1.14 to 0.56) in the first race after the Confederate flag was banned compared to the 11th race last year, and Saturday's Xfinity Series race, the second-tier of NASCAR, drew its most viewers on a broadcast network since last August, per Bruce Martin of Speed Sport.
NASCAR races account for eight of the top 50 sports-related broadcasts so far in 2020, according to Sports Media Watch (via Jayski's).
Wallace spoke with CNN's Don Lemon after the completion of the FBI investigation—which explicitly called the pull rope a noose—saying he was frustrated with the situation being labeled as a "hoax."
"It was a noose," Wallace said. "Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn't directed at me, but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying."
He added: "This will not break me, none of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down. It will piss me off, absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up."
Wallace finished ninth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, his best result since he crossed the finish line sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February.
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season continues Sunday at Kentucky Speedway. The Quaker State 400 will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.