Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR's top series, said he is relieved by the FBI's determining that no crime was committed in the hanging of a noose in his race track garage, but frustrated by some of the reaction.
"I was relieved just like many others to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me," Wallace told Craig Melvin on NBC's "TODAY" on Wednesday about the noose found in his garage stall over the weekend. "But it's still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you and that’s what I'm trying to wrap my head around now."
He said that some people are now calling him "fake" and wrongly suggesting that he was the person who found and reported the noose, when in fact that was not the case.
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The FBI said Tuesday it had determined that the noose found in Wallace's garage at the Talladega Speedway in Alabama was a pull rope that had been placed there in October, long before the stall was assigned to Wallace. Wallace said Wednesday that the FBI told him the garage pull had been fashioned in the shape of a noose — albeit not a functioning one.
“The photo evidence I’ve seen and have in my possession [shows] it was a garage pull that was a noose. I don’t know when we’ll get to the point that we’ll release that image … It’s alerting and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up,” Wallace said.
“It was definitely in the shape of a noose. It wasn’t a functioning noose,” Wallace said.
Review of security video following the discovery of the noose at the race track showed that it had been put up months earlier, according to a joint statement by the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI.
Wallace was assigned the garage space last week, a development that "nobody could have known" about in 2019, the statement said.
"On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway," the statement said. "After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed."
NASCAR confirmed Tuesday that photographic evidence showed that a garage door pull rope was fashioned like a noose and had been positioned in the stall since as recently as last fall.
"This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment," NASCAR said, referring to Wallace's car number. "We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba."
Wallace has said that the noose was first reported to him by NASCAR President Steve Phelps.
Phelps said in a virtual teleconference that rope had gone unnoticed as there had not been a race at the speedway since October.
"I want to be clear about the 43 team," Phelps added. "The 43 team had nothing to do with this. The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously."
NASCAR will continue an internal investigation as to why a rope was fashioned into a noose at all, Phelps said.
The noose was found Sunday, less than two weeks after the league prohibited Confederate flags on its properties and at its events — a move that came shortly after Wallace called on NASCAR to enact such a ban.
On Monday, NASCAR drivers stood behind Wallace, presenting a unified front with the circuit's only Black competitor.
Wallace tweeted a picture of the moving image, just ahead of the rain-delayed Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, with a one-word caption: "Together."