FBI Says Noose in Bubba Wallace's Garage Stall Was Not a Hate Crime

The FBI and U.S. Attorney's office issued a statement Tuesday after investigating a noose that was found at the Talladega Superspeedway in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver on the circuit's top level.

The federal agencies said there was no crime committed, and that it was rather a misunderstanding. The statement said it deployed 15 FBI special agents to conduct numerous interviews, and they found the noose had been in garage stall four since October of 2019.

Here's the statement issued by U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp:

"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."

NASCAR responded with a statement that thanked the FBI for a quick investigation, and the racing league said it was "thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba."

"The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime," NASCAR stated. "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."

NASCAR has announced it will hold a teleconference at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 McDonald's Chevrolet, wears a "I Can't Breathe - Black Lives Matter" T-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis, Minnesota police, stands during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 07, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NASCAR first announced the revelation of the rope Sunday night after the Geico 500 had been postponed after a lengthy weather delay. On Monday, all NASCAR Cup Series teams stood in solidarity with Wallace, and the teams pushed Wallace's No. 43 Chevrolet from the garage to the track.

Wallace, who took a selfie with all the teams prior to Monday's restart, went on to finish 14th in the race Monday evening. Wallace had worked his way into the top five with 30 laps remaining, then soared to first before falling behind to finish in the top 15.

Wallace was vocal about wanting NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from its events, in which NASCAR officially did earlier this month.

On Sunday at Talladega, vehicles outside of the speedway still prominently flied the Confederate flag, and a small plane flew overhead with a Confederate flag and a banner that read "Defund NASCAR."