FBI Investigation of Noose Incident Finds Bubba Wallace Wasn't Target of Hate Crime

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The FBI's investigation into a noose discovered in the garage of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace this past weekend found that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime, NASCAR announced Tuesday.

The investigation found that the noose was in Talladega Superspeedway's garage No. 4—the garage Wallace was assigned—as early as October 2019, U.S. attorney Jay E. Town and FBI special agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said in a joint statement.

"On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway," the joint statement read. "After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event. we have concluded that no federal crime was committed."

According a NASCAR statement, a rope fashioned like a noose had been in the garage since at least last fall. 

"This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment," NASCAR said in a statement. "We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intention, racist act against Bubba."

Richard Petty Motorsports, Wallace's team in NASCAR, said in a statement Tuesday that they are "thankful for the swift and thorough investigation by NASCAR and all of the authorities involved."

"We are also appreciative of the support from NASCAR, the motorsports industry and our fans," they added in a statement.

On Sunday evening, NASCAR announced that a noose had been found in Wallace's garage. Wallace, the lone Black driver at NASCAR's top level, said in a statement Sunday that, "Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism...

"...Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, 'They are just trying to scare you.' This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."

On Monday, NASCAR drivers rallied around Wallace ahead of the start of the Geico 500, as they pushed Wallace's No. 43 car down the track to the front of the field.

Wallace finished 14th in the race.

Earlier this month, NASCAR announced a ban on Confederate flags at all events, something Wallace had strongly advocated for. However, fans outside of Talladega Superspeedway displayed Confederate flags from the vehicles on Sunday. A plane flew overhead with a Confederate flag banner, with a sign reading "Defund NASCAR."