Nascar has been making strides in recent weeks to make the sport a more inclusive place, such as banning confederate flags from its races. The sport has also stood by those who’ve elected to peacefully protest for the Black Lives Matter movement – a black official took a knee during the national anthem in Atlanta, and the only black driver, Bubba Wallace, ran a BLM livery at Martinsville Speedway.
In this weekend’s race at Talladega, Wallace was unfortunately the target of a disgusting act where someone got into his garage area – presumably someone who works within the sport, given the location – and left a noose on display. Nascar responded to the incident with a strongly-worded statement:
“We are angry and outraged and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.
“As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in Nascar and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”
Rain delayed the race from Sunday into Monday and ahead of the start, the field of drivers put on an amazing display of solidarity with Wallace. In the pit lane ahead of the race, his car was pushed by his fellow drivers to the front of the queue for the pre-race ceremonies, joined by other team members along the way.
After a noose was found in his garage stall last night, @NASCAR drivers show their support for @BubbaWallace at Talladega. #IStandWIthBubba pic.twitter.com/uFlxmP27qa
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 22, 2020
There was another amazing moment in the race, too. Wallace briefly led as the race neared the end, only to run out of fuel with three laps remaining. But rather than have him left stranded out on the track, Corey LaJoie (yup, the guy who runs the facecar) went full Lightning McQueen and pushed him back to the pits.
Learned it from Lightening. pic.twitter.com/eTuHx1tuWr
— Corey LaJoie (@CoreyLaJoie) June 23, 2020
Wallace went onto finish 14th as Ryan Blaney held off the pack in an incredibly tight finish.
Another chapter written in the book of thrilling @TalladegaSuperS finishes.
Once again, it was @Blaney holding off the pack to score the victory. pic.twitter.com/jPEQC91QcA
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020
By all accounts, it’s a race weekend that’s going to be hard for anyone to forget. Least of all Wallace – after the race, he gave a powerful message showing his gratitude for the support. He told Fox Sports:
"The sport is changing … Whoever it was, you're not gonna take away my smile."@BubbaWallace with powerful words the day after a noose was found in his garage stall at Talladega. pic.twitter.com/Wl2aqGk59a
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 23, 2020