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Bubba Wallace said Tuesday night he’s “pissed” that some are attacking his character following the determination that no federal charges will be brought after a noose was discovered in his garage stall at Talladega.
Wallace, the only Black driver racing full-time in NASCAR, was informed by NASCAR president Steve Phelps early Sunday evening that a crew member on Wallace’s team had discovered the noose. Wallace — who isn’t allowed to go to the garage because of NASCAR’s coronavirus social distancing protocols — said Phelps called him and told him that he wanted to talk in person.
Wallace said he at first wondered if he had said something wrong to get suspended or punished by NASCAR. Then he realized that was not the case when he went and met with Phelps.
“The look that he had on his face alerted me in a way I’ll never forget as well and I’m still thinking ‘OK what did I do, let me know,’” Wallace told CNN’s Don Lemon. “ … The conversation I had with Steve Phelps I would say, and I’m speaking for him, probably one of the hardest things if not the hardest thing he’s ever had to tell somebody. Tears running down his face. Choked up on every word that he was trying to say, the evidence he brought to me that a hate crime was committed, quote unquote.”
“And I immediately thought my family was in danger and so I was about ready to call my mom and dad and make sure everybody was OK. But it was in the garage stall where our car was at so I was kind of taken aback and not really comprehending everything.”
Wallace made clear what has been publicly reported numerous times but seems to still be causing confusion among those attacking his character on social media. He did not see the noose on Sunday and he was not the one who reported it to NASCAR.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and the FBI said in a joint statement that the noose had been in Wallace’s garage stall since the October race at Talladega in 2019. Phelps said Tuesday that there were no other garage stall rope handles made into nooses at Talladega and Wallace said on CNN that he realized that it was not targeted at him because of when it was tied.
Paul Menard’s No. 21 car occupied the same garage stall Wallace’s car did this previous weekend. A crew member for Menard’s team said he remembered the rope being tied like a noose in the fall when the No. 21 car was using that garage stall.
And while it’s clear that the rope was tied into a noose long before Wallace’s car occupied the No. 4 garage, Wallace is adamant that it was, in fact, a noose like both the FBI and NASCAR have said. He was asked by Lemon if he’s ever seen a garage pull tied like that.
“Don, the image that I have seen of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull,” Wallace said. “I’ve been racing all my life. We’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. People that want to call it a garage pull put out old videos and photos of knots as their evidence, go ahead. From the evidence that I have, it’s a straight-up noose. The FBI has stated that it was a noose over and over again. NASCAR leadership has stated that it was a noose. I can confirm that. I actually got evidence of what was hanging in my garage over my car around my pit crew guy to confirm that it was a noose. Never seen anything like it.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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