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Bubba Wallace defends decision to race, says NASCAR isn’t ignoring ‘dark and evil acts’

“We will continue to stand for the countless victims of police brutality,” NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace said. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Bubba Wallace, the lone Black full-time driver NASCAR’s Cup series, defended the circuit’s decision to stick to its schedule instead of following the lead of the NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLB, which all have postponed games this week in protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man in Kenosha, Wis.

“Many of you are wondering ‘what will NASCAR do’....We set the tone for sports coming back during this pandemic. We stood up for change. We stood up for racial justice. We stood up for #GeorgeFloyd We stood up for #AhmaudArbery and #BreonnaTaylor,” Wallace wrote Thursday night to begin a Twitter thread. “We will continue to stand for the countless victims of police brutality. Nothing can justify #JacobBlake being shot 7 times in the back. I proudly support my brothers and sisters from all sports backgrounds and the stance they are taking to fight for equality.”

NASCAR will hold races as planned this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, with its top-level Cup Series race Saturday night.

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“I hope you all understand that by us continuing to race this weekend, DOES NOT mean we are stepping down and turning away from the dark and evil acts that have taken over our nation. Absolutely NOT!!!” Wallace wrote. “I can assure all of you that myself and many of my competitors are continuing to work hard with @NASCAR to continue the efforts and the fight for racial equality. Let’s stand or kneel TOGETHER and continue push for what’s right. Love. Compassion. Understanding”

NASCAR has not issued a statement about its decision to race amid the protests over the Blake shooting, though its official Twitter feed did retweet Wallace’s thread.

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The stock-car series was one of the first sports to return from the novel coronavirus pandemic, with Wallace becoming its most outspoken driver in the protests that followed the death of George Floyd during a confrontation with Minneapolis police officers. He also called on NASCAR to ban displays of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties, which it did in June.

Ahead of a race in late June at Talladega Superspeedway, Wallace was assigned a garage stall in which a door pull had been shaped like a noose, leading to widespread condemnation and a show of support for Wallace from the other NASCAR drivers. After investigations by both NASCAR and the FBI, it was determined that the door-pull noose had been in the stall for at least eight months, though no one could figure out why it had remained there or how Wallace had been assigned that particular stall.

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