‘Whoever it was won’t take away my smile’: Emotional Bubba Wallace sends a message to the culprit who hung a noose in his garage as all of his NASCAR rivals rally behind him at the Talladega speedway
Bubba Wallace finished in 14th place at Monday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, but he and NASCAR were winners after all 39 of his competitors rallied around the circuit’s only black full-time driver in a moving gesture of solidarity after he discovered a noose hanging in his garage.
‘I’m proud to stand where I’m at… This sport is changing,’ an emotional Wallace said after the race.
‘The deal that happened (Saturday) I wanted to show whoever it was, you are not going to take away my smile
‘I am going to keep on going.’
As fans cheered Wallace from the other side of the fence that separates the stands from the track, he appeared overwhelmed by the public show of support from the NASCAR community.
‘The prerace deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life,’ he said.
‘From all the supporters, from drivers to crew members, everybody here, the bad*** fan base, thank you guys for coming out.
‘This is truly incredible, and I’m glad to be a part of this sport.’
Even in victory, Ryan Blaney thought about what happened to his close friend, Wallace, over the weekend. And what happened afterward.
Blaney held onto the lead after a restart with two laps to go Monday, earning his second straight win at Talladega Superspeedway on a day that began with NASCAR drivers throwing their support behind Wallace.
‘I think it’s great that everybody really came together,’ Blaney said. ‘I don’t want it to be remembered as a terrible day or a bad day in NASCAR.
‘I want it to be remembered as there was an incident and we all overcame it together and showed that we’re not going to take it any more.’
It was that kind of bittersweet day and weekend.
Blaney nipped Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the finish line by .007 seconds for his fourth win and first since Talladega in October, albeit this time before a mostly empty venue.
It was a race marked by support for Wallace instead of another Big One at Talladega, though there was mayhem behind Blaney on the final lap and he also pushed Erik Jones into the wall near the finish.
Before the race, in an extraordinary act of solidarity with NASCAR’s only black driver, dozens of drivers pushed the car belonging to Wallace to the front of the field before Monday’s race as FBI agents nearby tried to find out who left a noose in his garage stall over the weekend.
The stock car series was left reeling and angered by the racist act that came less than two weeks after it banned the Confederate flag on its properties at Wallace’s urging.
NASCAR has vowed to permanently bar the person responsible, but the investigation was in its early stages.
The 26-year-old Wallace was surrounded by all 39 other drivers in the moments before the race and they were joined by their crews in a march down pit road as they pushed his No. 43 to the front of the line. Wallace climbed out of his car and wept.
It was a stirring move to support Wallace at a track in the heart of the South where flags have flown for decades and were seen outside the superspeedway all weekend long by fans opposed to NASCAR’s ban. Wallace is a native of Mobile, Alabama, which is a four-hour drive from Talladega.
Standing alongside Wallace for the national anthem was Richard Petty, the 82-year-old Hall of Fame driver known as ‘The King.’
Wallace drives for Petty, who issued a scathing rebuke after the noose was found that called for the ‘sick person’ to be expelled from NASCAR forever – a move NASCAR President Steve Phelps insisted would happen should they be caught.
The race began with Martin Truex Jr. on the pole in front of a mostly empty venue.
Up to 5,000 fans were allowed into Talladega for the race – only the second race with fans since NASCAR returned from the pandemic-forced shutdown – but attendance was significantly lower Monday after the one-day postponement because of rain……more
Source: Daily Mail