NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace praised top officials at the premier stock car circuit and the FBI on Wednesday for their handling of the investigation that revealed the noose found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway was not a hate crime.
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The FBI determined that a pull rope attached to the garage door assigned to Wallace’s team at Talladega last Sunday had been there since as early as last fall. In a new statement after several media appearances late Tuesday and early Wednesday, Wallace, the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series reiterated his relief that he hadn’t been targeted for a hate crime.
“It’s been an emotional few days. First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was,” Wallace said in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat. I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been.”
A member of Wallace’s crew alerted NASCAR officials to the noose late Sunday afternoon, prompting an immediate investigation. The incident took place several days after NASCAR, at Wallace’s urging, banned the Confederate flag from flying at its events and venues.
The FBI based its findings on video evidence authenticated by NASCAR, which showed the noose had been in place since at least last October.
Earlier Wednesday, Wallace told “Today” that he was frustrated with some of the public reaction to the investigation’s findings.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the circuit is still investigating why the rope found in the garage was fastened into a noose. Phelps said NASCAR “would have done the same investigation” again based on the evidence it had on hand.
The NASCAR community rallied to support Wallace earlier this week. NASCAR drivers and crews marched together down pit road and pushed Wallace's No. 43 car to the start line at Talladega on Monday night.
“Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all,” Wallace added.