Bubba Wallace: NASCAR driver frustrated his integrity is being questioned following noose investigation
Wallace: "It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying"
Last Updated: 24/06/20 10:31pm
NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace says he is frustrated his integrity is being questioned after it was revealed a noose found in his garage stall was there before his team moved in - but is relieved with the outcome of the investigation.
NASCAR alerted the FBI who carried out an investigation after a crew member discovered the noose at the Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon.
Wallace - the only African-American driver in NASCAR's top series and a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter - was thought to have been the target of a racial attack.
However, the FBI reported on Tuesday that the noose had been in the garage since at least last October and the 26-year-old was therefore not a victim of hate crime.
"I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity," Wallace told CNN.
"This will not break me, none of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down. It will p*ss me off, absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up.
"It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying."
Fellow drivers showed their support for Wallace by pushing his No 43 car to the front of the field at the Alabama speedway, in an act of solidarity ahead of the rain-delayed race on Monday.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Wallace admitted his relief that the investigation found it was not what he had first feared.
"It's been an emotional few days," he said. "First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn't what we feared it was. 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. 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."
'No federal crime was committed'
U.S. Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. said its investigation determined although the noose is now known to have been in garage No 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Wallace would be assigned to that garage last week.
"On Monday, 15 FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway," Town and Sharp Jr. said in a joint statement.
"After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
"The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week.
"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.
"The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation."
NASCAR said in a statement the FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall, well before the 43 teams arrival and garage assignment.
The Wood Brothers Racing team stated one of its employees informed the team he recalled seeing a tied handle in the garage pull down rope from last fall, when NASCAR raced at Talladega in October.
The team said it immediately alerted NASCAR and assisted the investigation.
Two weeks ago, Wallace successfully pushed for NASCAR to ban the contentious Confederate flag at its tracks and properties amid protests against the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.