NASCAR made the big decision to ban Confederate flags at races on Wednesday. The decision came after Bubba Wallace, the only full-time black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, made comments on not wanting the flag flown at upcoming events, which historically started in the U.S. as a contentious response to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and the desegregation of schools. Before the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday night, Wallace talked to Fox Sports about NASCAR's big move.
"Bravo. Props to NASCAR and everybody involved," Wallace said who finished 11th place in Wednesday's race. "This has been a stressful couple weeks. This is no doubt the biggest race of my career tonight. And it couldn’t be at a more perfect place, where I got my first win in the Truck Series in 2013. Followed it up with that second win in 2014." Wallace went on to say there are "a lot of emotions on the race track and off the race track that are riding with us, but tonight is something special. Today’s been special. Again, hats off to NASCAR."
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said he made the decision in order to take a stand against racism. In a statement, Phelps said: "The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties."
Wallace also said he was talking to Phelps about what the next step would be. "And that was a huge, pivotal moment for the sport," Wallace stated "Lot of backlash, but it creates doors and allows the community to come together as one, and that’s what the real mission is here. So I’m excited about that."
During Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Wallace was seen wearing a shirt that said, I "Can't Breathe" and "Black Lives Matter." During Wednesday's race, Wallace's No. 43 car had the Black Lives Matter Theme which earned a lot of praise from LeBron James. When talking about the car, Wallace said: "With this statement that we have right here that we're about to make with running this race car, being on live television on Fox, it's going to speak volumes to what I stand for, but also what the initiative that NASCAR is trying to push."