NASCAR and the FBI said on Tuesday that investigators have completed an investigation and determined that driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.
The racing circuit said that video from NASCAR given to the FBI concluded that a rope fashioned like a noose had been hanging from Wallace’s garage since as early as last fall. But the garage had not been used since a race in 2019.
"The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week.," said US Attorney Jay E Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp in a joint statement. "The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. 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."
NASCAR President Steve Phelps told reporters that NASCAR will continue its own investigation.
“I want to be clear about the 43 team – the 43 team had nothing to do with this,” Phelps said. “The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously. The last race we’d had there in October, that noose was present, and the fact that it was not found until a member of the 43 team came there is something that is a fact.
“We had not been back to the garage. It was a quick one-day show. The crew member went back in there, he looked at - he saw the noose, brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR series director Jay Fabian and we launched this investigation. To be clear, we would do this again. The evidence that we had, it was clear we needed to look into this."
Wallace's crew reported on Sunday finding a noose hanging from a garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway.
Before Monday's race, drivers and crew members stood in solidarity with Wallace. Fellow drivers pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the field moments before the race got underway.
Wallace became the first Black full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver in 2018 in more than four decades. He instantly found success as a full-time driver, finishing as the runner-up of the 2018 Daytona 500.
Amid national unrest over the death of George Floyd, Wallace called for the ban of Confederate symbols from NASCAR events. NASCAR announced two weeks ago that Confederate flags would no longer be permitted at its tracks.
Despite the ban, multiple Confederate flags were seen flying outside of the raceway, according to photos shared by the Associated Press.