FBI determines that Wallace was not a hate crime target

Image by Harrelson/Motorsport Images

FBI determines that Wallace was not a hate crime target

NASCAR

FBI determines that Wallace was not a hate crime target

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The FBI has concluded its investigation into the noose found in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s garage stall and determined that no federal crime was committed.

The investigation revealed that the noose had been in the garage stall since October of 2019. A joint statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. explained that Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team had been assigned the number 4 garage stall last week.

The full statement:

“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway.  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.”

One of the Petty crew members found the noose Sunday afternoon and alerted NASCAR officials. Upon launching an investigation, NASCAR called the Birmingham office of the FBI on Monday morning, which then arrived on-site to begin investigating.

Wallace never saw the noose. NASCAR President Steve Phelps was the one who informed Wallace what happened.

NASCAR has issued the following statement, and Phelps will address the media at 6 p.m. ET.

“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This 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.”

Construction on a new garage area and infield was completed at Talladega last fall. Wood Brothers Racing worked out of garage stall number four in October, and posted on their official Twitter page they “assisted in the investigation.”

“We are thankful that there was no one involved in perpetrating hate during this weekend’s race,” the team said.

“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. One of our employees alerted us yesterday morning that, without knowing the details of the incident, he recalled seeing a tied handle in the garage pull-down rope from last fall. We immediately alerted NASCAR and have assisted the investigation in every way possible.

“What transpired over the past day plus is a unity that has only served to strengthen the bonds between each and every crew member, fan and non-fan alike. The Wood Brothers organization is proud to stand with Bubba Wallace and the entire industry as we work to make every race fan a part of our NASCAR family.”

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