It has been an earthshaking week for Bubba Wallace, who (along with NASCAR) is continuing to deal with the fallout from the discovery of a noose in his Talladega garage stall on Sunday.
Wallace appeared on NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday morning to discuss the noose incident and the result of the FBI’s investigation, which found that the noose was a garage pull that had been in the stall since the fall of 2019, long before Wallace had been assigned to that garage stall at Talladega. The FBI determined that no crime had been committed.
“I was relieved, just like many others, to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me.” -@BubbaWallace on the FBI’s investigation into the garage pull rope fashioned like a noose found in his garage stall. pic.twitter.com/tkuZ0HGMhC
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 24, 2020
"I was relieved, just like many others, to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me," Wallace told NBC's "Today" about the noose. "But it's still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you, and that’s what I'm trying to wrap my head around now."
Image of noose affected Wallace
Since the FBI’s findings were released on Tuesday, Wallace has endured people questioning whether he overreacted or even made the whole thing up. But Wallace didn’t discover the noose, which was used as a garage pull, and never saw it in person. It was discovered by one of his teammates, who immediately reported it. Wallace was told about the noose by NASCAR president Steve Phelps, and the image he was shown remains with him.
“The photo evidence I’ve seen and have in my possession [shows] it was a garage pull that was a noose,” Wallace said. “I don’t know when we’ll get to the point that we’ll release that image. … It’s alerting and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
Wallace said that he wouldn’t change anything that happened, since he would have done the same thing if he’d been the one to find it. He would have immediately reported it to NASCAR officials and let them handle it, which is exactly what was done.
The FBI supported reaction of Wallace’s team
As for the intent behind the garage-pull noose, Wallace isn’t sure, but he believes it was “definitely in the shape of a noose.” He said on “Today” that the FBI isn’t sure of the intent either, but it’s skeptical of someone taking the time to fashion a noose (albeit a non-functioning one) as just a normal garage pull. Wallace also said the FBI supported his team’s decision to take it seriously.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 24, 2020
“I told [the FBI] that I had questioned my team members. ‘Are we sure this isn’t something we’re taking out of context?’ They backed my team up and reiterated that if you were to see this at this time, you would stand with your team right now for why they were so alert,” Wallace said.
Since the noose was found on Sunday, Wallace has encountered an outpouring of support from his fellow drivers. Before the Geico 500 on Monday, a number of drivers pushed his No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro to the grid, and then the entire field united on the track to stand behind Wallace and support him. Wallace finished 14th, his best finish at Talladega.
Wallace tweeted a statement on Monday afternoon, expressing his gratitude that the noose was a garage pull and not “what we feared it was.” He also thanked NASCAR and the FBI for acting quickly and taking the incident seriously.
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