NASCAR President Steve Phelps said those responsible for leaving a noose in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s garage stall will “unequivocally be banned” for life from the sport.
“There’s no room for this at all, and we won’t tolerate it,” said Phelps Monday afternoon. “They won’t be here. I don’t care who they are; they will not be here.”
In a brief media teleconference, Phelps said the investigation into the incident is still ongoing, and specific details cannot yet be released, such as the use of cameras in the garage area. However, Phelps did confirm that it was a crew member from Richard Petty Motorsports who discovered the noose and alerted NASCAR.
Upon launching an investigation, NASCAR officials alerted the Birmingham office of the FBI at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. The FBI is on-site at Talladega Superspeedway to start their investigation.
“Obviously, this is a very, very serious act, and we take it as such,” said Phelps. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that whoever has committed this act comes to justice and comes to light, and we rid this type of behavior from our sport.
“We’re going to use every effort we can to determine who has done this, whether it’s a single person or multiple people. I know the director of the FBI has informed the Birmingham office to use all their resources to find out as well. The teams and drivers and anyone who would have any access to this have all said, ‘Hey, we want to make sure that we figure out who has done this vile act.”
COVID-19 restrictions limit the number of people with access to the infield and garage area. At Talladega, fans do not have access to the infield, and the essential personnel would include NASCAR, team members, track workers, and those from medical and safety. NASCAR and the FBI will review the list of those who were granted access to the infield and garage area at that time.
“We also use something called compartmentalization to look at who was in that particular area, and we’ll be able to narrow that down,” said Phelps, who could not confirm that there was a security breach. “Security around getting into the footprint is significant. We have limited it to just essential personnel, and Security is very tight getting in and out of the footprint.”
Wallace was informed of the incident by Phelps. Asked to respond to those who are claiming this has been a staged event, Phelps said he is personally offended at the notion.
“This is a terrible, terrible act that has happened,” said Phelps. “For those who would think this is staged, I don’t even know where to go with that, frankly.”
Wallace has received overwhelming support from those within the NASCAR industry. Drivers are also expected to show their solidary with Wallace during pre-race, and #IStandWithBubba has been painted into the frontstretch grass.
NASCAR officials allowed Richard Petty Motorsports to check over its No. 43 Chevrolet this morning to make sure it wasn’t tampered with overnight. Richard Petty will support Wallace by attending the race, his first since the pandemic began.
Security for Monday, when the NASCAR Cup Series is hopeful to run its postponed GEICO 500, has also been increased.
“This is a family that needs to take care of one of its family members who has been attacked,” said Phelps. “We will firmly support, as an industry, as a family and community to make sure Bubba and everyone else in this sport is safe.
“This is a difficult time for our sport, but we are going to react swiftly. Again, we’re going to use all the means, resources at our disposal, and those of the FBI to make sure that this person or persons are caught and dealt with swiftly and severely.”