Bubba Wallace doesn’t have a ton of supporters in NASCAR, but he’s got one very big supporter in Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt defended Wallace, who has been embroiled in controversy of some type or another for years now, during the most recent episode of his podcast The Dale Earnhardt Jr. Download. Specifically, Earnhardt blasted NASCAR fans who gave Wallace a hard time on stage at Darlington a few weeks ago and more recently at North Wilkesboro.
I was at Darlington a couple weeks ago. We’re on this stage, and it’s the 75 greatest drivers all lined up. Outside of me, these are the greatest drivers that have been involved in the sport. All distinguished, of varying ages, everybody’s there to have this great experience. And the drivers are being introduced and walking by us, shaking our hand one after the other. And it’s this moment where everybody, you would think that it would be a moment where you’d behave.
And there’s this one guy at the rail, the rail of the fans that are down on the front straightaway, there’s one guy at the rail. Everybody for the most part is just cheering. There’s a couple, you know they give a couple people a hard time, Denny (Hamlin) and all that. A smattering of boos. Nothing crazy.
But Bubba gets introduced and walks across the stage and there’s this guy right in front of me and Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth and everyone else there, screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Go home! Go home! Go home!’ over and over, as loud as he could.
And it was so obnoxious. I really wanted to jump down there and go, ‘Hey, could you stop? Is this really what you want to do right in this moment? Is this how you want to behave right now in front of all these incredible people that you’re standing in front of? Richard Petty and all these legends, you’re going to be acting this way?’
Earnhardt continued, “And I thought man, that’s one day in Bubba’s life. And I was thinking, I know there’s people out there who have hated Kyle Busch and hated other drivers, and they probably have said some nasty things. But it just made me really disappointed.”
In an apparent reference to the hacking of Wallace’s internal team communications system in which unknown persons told the driver he was “not wanted in NASCAR,” Earnhardt said that Wallace deals with too much.
“I will tell you man, Bubba Wallace puts up with more sh*t than anybody deserves,” he added.
Of course, Wallace has also stirred up more controversy and drama than most other drivers have as well. In 2020, Wallace alleged that someone had put a noose in his garage in an apparent racial attack. A subsequent investigation that involved no less than 15 FBI agents proved that the “noose” was in fact a garage pull that had been in place well before Wallace or his car were moved into that particular garage at Talladega.
In more recent events, he assaulted a driver after a collision:
Bubba Wallace is NOT HAPPY with Kyle Larson.
Some pushes and shoves after they wreck. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/aaAn0idrJp
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 16, 2022
Wallace inserted himself into a highly-charged political situation by saying Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people who assaulted him during the BLM riots in what was ruled a case of self-defense, would have gotten life in prison if he were black.
Ha, let the boy be black and it would’ve been life…hell he would’ve had his life taken before the bullshit trial.. sad
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) November 19, 2021
And just this past weekend, Wallace angered many by flipping the bird during a live interview.
Real professional there @BubbaWallace @23XIRacing flipping the bird at the start of his post race interview. No class man. #NASCAR @NASCAR @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/bg7fiIrHol
— Charlie Waffles (@CWaffles) May 22, 2023
So, is Earnhardt correct that Wallace deals with more grief than other drivers? Probably. Has Wallace also done more to generate animosity than most other NASCAR drivers? Absolutely.
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