By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) — The FBI has completed its investigation into a noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this week and is not filing any federal charges, the organization announced Tuesday.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, the noose had been in the garage since as early as last fall.
Wallace, the league’s only full-time Black driver, “was not the target of a hate crime,” NASCAR said in a statement.
The FBI investigation concluded through video and photographic evidence that a garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned in that garage number 4 since at least October 2019, and thus was not directed at Wallace.
“Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week,” Town and Sharp’s statement said.
In a press call with media on Tuesday, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said this was “fantastic” news.
“There is no place in our sport for this type of racism and hatred,” Phelps said. “It’s not who we are as a sport.”
Phelps said that NASCAR will be continuing its own investigation to determine “why there was a rope fashioned into a noose.” He said the rope was present in the garage during a race in October. On Sunday, a member of Wallace’s crew found and reported it to his crew chief, who then brought it to the attention of NASCAR Cup Series Director Jay Fabian, he said.
“To be clear, we would do this again,” Phelps said. “The evidence that we had, it was clear that we needed to look into this.”
Phelps said the show of support around Wallace at Monday’s race was a “very powerful image” and “one of the most important days that we had.”
Wallace was met with a huge show of support from all 39 other drivers and their crews with a march down pit road as they pushed his car to the front of the field.
“These times kind of bring back that positive light of love and passion and solidarity and unity, to unite together and show that love is way stronger than hate,” Wallace said on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday.
On Sunday, NASCAR had said it was launching an investigation after a noose was found in the garage stall for Wallace’s 43 team.
On Monday, the Department of Justice announced its Civil Rights Division was also investigating to determine if any federal laws were violated.
Wallace had pushed for NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag amid calls for racial justice following George Floyd’s death last month at the hands of Minneapolis police. NASCAR subsequently announced earlier this month that it was banning the presence of the controversial flag at all events.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.