NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace continues to court controversy by embracing the role of the “villain.”
On Sunday, the America racing driver stirred the pot when he flipped off the camera after his surprise finish in second place at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina.
The 26-year-old Wallace isn't backing down -- despite his detractors. On Saturday, Wallace responded to the boos he received from the crowd by saying it was to be expected.
"That's every week," he said. "It's sports, it's always going to be there. Hey, as long as you continue to live your life, judging a book by its cover, that's who you are. Don't change it up for anybody else. That's the biggest thing. That's fine. I mean I finished 5th. I got a good payday. I'm good."
The boos for @BubbaWallace after today’s truck race & during driver intros were very loud at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
A @wsoctv reporter asked a great question about how/if that affects Bubba.
Wallace gave a great answer in return. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/0VDHtUZ7c0
— Noah Lewis (@Noah_Lewis1) May 20, 2023
Wallace has become a lightning rod for criticism since he made the claim that there was racist intent in a noose placed in his team's garage in 2019. However, the FBI conclusively determined that the pull rope fashioned into the loop had no such connection to racism at all.
The controversial moment at the North Wilkesboro Speedway prompted an outpouring of shock and outrage as viewers took to their social media accounts to express their dismay. One Twitter user said, “NASCAR doesn’t need this kind of behavior. Respect for the sport and other drivers is required.”
Another user tweeted, “I understand why some fans don’t like Wallace, but to express it this way is childish and unprofessional.”
For his part, Wallace has often talked about needing to overcome his inner “villain” in order to persevere in the face of adversity.
“When I get in my race car, I’m more focused on winning and competing than I am thinking about randomly that people don’t like me,” he previously told The Associated Press in 2010.
It remains to be seen whether Wallace’s latest gambit will hurt him or open the door for more success down the road. However, it’s clear that the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year isn’t intimidated by the fans’ disapproval and he will continue to “live his life” as he sees fit.
Bubba Wallace being all class again. NOT! What a jack leg. He knew he was on camera with Fox too. #AllStarRace pic.twitter.com/YnKYxiKjtB
— Ronnie Greene (@GreeneRonnie) May 22, 2023
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