After 'Noose' Controversy, Bubba Wallace's Next Act Takes Aim at Christian Driver
Accidents happen, especially in a sport like NASCAR, where sheer speed is important.
Bumpers can get clipped, pit crews can miss something in their haste, and garage door pull ropes can be mistaken for nooses.
Given that Bubba Wallace Jr., NASCAR’s only black driver, personally experienced that “noose” mistake, you’d think he would be a bit more understanding when it comes to accidents.
Not so much.
Wallace, either unwilling or unable to avoid controversy, caught the media’s attention again after getting his car totaled during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Open at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Wednesday. The All-Star Open is the race that immediately precedes the actual All-Star Race, and some drivers can use the former to qualify for the latter.
A big crash involving @BubbaWallace and @Mc_Driver!
Our first caution of the night is out in the All-Star Open at @BMSupdates. pic.twitter.com/W8OoykuuFs
— NASCAR Alerts (@NASCAR_Alerts) July 15, 2020
Wallace, according to USA Today, was evaluated and released from the infield care center. All’s well that ends well, right?
Not so for Wallace.
The 26-year-old driver was visibly fuming after the accident, which is totally understandable. His car was totaled, he didn’t finish the All-Star Open, he couldn’t compete in the All-Star Race proper, and he’s missing out on the chance for that race’s $1 million purse.
What’s not nearly as understandable is how Wallace felt compelled to mock the faith of Michael McDowell, the driver who clipped him.
“Oh, just disrespect. When you get hooked into the wall … I don’t even need to see a replay. Look at that s—. Yeah, wow,” he said.
“People say one of the nicest guys in the garage. Can’t wait for the God-fearing text that he’s going to send me about preaching and praise and respect. What a joke he is.”
“What a joke he is.” @BubbaWallace on @Mc_Driver. pic.twitter.com/3l2RIloWqH
— NASCAR Alerts (@NASCAR_Alerts) July 15, 2020
That strangely personal attack took aim at not only McDowell’s character but his faith. Some might even describe that attack as discriminatory, which is a bit curious, given Wallace’s recent surge of social justice pontificating.
And to be clear, McDowell’s faith is very much a part of who he is. The first thing mentioned in his Twitter profile is “Follower of Jesus.”
McDowell also penned a powerful Christian testimony for Motor Racing Outreach.
“I could not imagine being married with a child and not knowing Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. The greatest gift is to know that I am not alone in this world and that God has a plan and a place in his kingdom for me and my family,” McDowell wrote.
Wallace’s petulant response didn’t just end with a dig at McDowell’s faith. He also left his wrecked bumper at the footstep of McDowell’s hauler.
.@BubbaWallace took the bumper of his wrecked #43 car and dropped it a the hauler door of @Mc_Driver.
Not a happy driver.
PC: @PaulEdSutton, @peterstratta #NASCAR #AllStarOpen pic.twitter.com/G4fVWQ3Xid
— Noah Lewis (NASCAR Writer) (@Noah_Lewis1) July 15, 2020
Even if what McDowell did was intentional, Wallace’s response was far from classy. You can criticize someone without mocking his faith. Wallace could have just called McDowell a joke and left it at that.
This wasn’t the first time Wallace let his temper get the best of him.
Last year, after another collision he viewed as intentional, he threw a drink in the face of fellow driver Alex Bowman, who was being treated for dehydration, and called him a “b—-.”
Oh. @AlexBowman88 | @BubbaWallace pic.twitter.com/KadVc9rRSI
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 29, 2019
In June, after the FBI announced the “noose” in his garage was merely a door pull that had been there for months, Wallace lashed out in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.
“I’m p—ed,” he said. “I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity. And they’re not stealing that away from me, but they’re just trying to test that.”
President Donald Trump later criticized the NASCAR driver for his failure to apologize for the “hoax.”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
Wallace responded with a message to “the next generation and little ones following my foot steps.”
“Your words and actions will always be held to a higher standard than others. … You will always have people testing you,” he wrote. “Seeing if they can knock you off your pedestal. I encourage you to keep your head held high and walk proudly on the path you’ve chosen.”
Wallace advised them to “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! Love over hate every day.”
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