Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., the only full-time NASCAR driver who is Black, was not the victim of a hate crime, federal officials said Tuesday, concluding their investigation into the discovery of what appeared to be a noose in his garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
NASCAR officials said in a statement that the noose was actually a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose” and that photographic evidence showed it had been in the garage since as early as last fall. Wallace was assigned the garage last week.
The racing officials expressed relief that “Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.”
“We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR said on Twitter. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”
After the announcement by federal authorities, Twitter erupted with criticism that NASCAR and the media should not have rushed to judgement.
In an interview on CNN late Tuesday, Wallace said he believed that his team and NASCAR had acted appropriately in taking the incident seriously and referring it to federal authorities.
He said that in his years of racing, he had never seen a garage pull like the one in question.
“It was a noose,” he said. “Whether it was tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose.”
Its discovery at the famed NASCAR track Sunday by…