U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI special agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said that 15 FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews at the Talladega Speedway in Alabama.
“After a thorough review of the facts, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” the statement said. It added that the rope was hanging in the garage, No. 4, since October 2019 or before.
The agency used “authentic video confirmed by NASCAR,” while it added that “nobody could have known that Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.” Wallace is African-American.
STATEMENT ON THE COINCIDENCE OF OUR STALL FROM 2019 AND THE INVESTIGATION pic.twitter.com/SJgKus8o8T
— Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) June 23, 2020
Furthermore, Wood Brothers Racing sent out a statement that said one of its employees said on Monday that he saw “a tied handle in the garage pull-down rope from last fall.”
“Just like the rest of the NASCAR garage, we were shocked and appalled to learn of the existence of the rope fashioned like a noose,” the Wood Brothers Racing statement added. “We immediately alerted NASCAR and have assisted in the investigation in every way possible.”
NASCAR also issued a statement, saying, “Wallace was not the target of a hate crime,” noting that the pull rope was there since last fall and “was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment.”
“We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing,” the statement said.
The NASCAR statement was in sharp contrast to the finger-pointing in their statement announcing the discovery of the “noose”: “Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”
Neither Wood Brother Racing nor NASCAR issued an apology to the nation or their fans for drawing conclusions for the rope before an investigation had begun.
The discovery of the rope, announced by NASCAR Sunday night, came about two weeks after Wallace pushed the stock car racing organization to ban Confederate flags at its facilities and tracks.
A crew member for Richard Petty Motorsports found the “noose” before NASCAR was alerted and contacted the FBI.
Due to rain, the Talladega race on Sunday was postponed until Monday. Before the race, the drivers came together and pushed Wallace and his car forward. He finished 14th in the race, a career best at Talladega.
Fans have been quick to criticize NASCAR for jumping on the bandwagon and assuming a simple garage door pull-down rope was a symbol of hate directed at a black driver. The incident is one of a long series of accusations of racists acts over recent years that have proved to be unfounded after allegations were investigated.