NASCAR has confirmed this photo of the garage pull-down rope in the formation of a rope that hung on Sunday at the Bubba Wallace garage stall in Talladega Superspeedway.
Photo of the garage tow rope tied like a rope from the Bubba Wallace garage on Sunday: #nascar @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/IrsQ1PUbci
– Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 25, 2020
A Richard Petty Motorsports crew member found the rope and notified Wallace’s crew chief, Jerry Baxter, who took a photo of the rope before it was cut.
NASCAR called the Federal Bureau of Investigation Monday, and 15 officers went to the track to speak to crew members before the race, which had been postponed since Sunday due to rain. The FBI announced Tuesday that the investigation determined that the rope was in place in October 2019.
Full FBI statement: #nascar @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/wJY14YDGDK
– Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 23, 2020
A snapshot of a video I took on October 14 of that garage stall shows the presence of the rope.
I went back and took a look at my camera roll on my phone and captured this from the video … rope left: pic.twitter.com/Od1Z4aKaxi
– Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 23, 2020
Wallace is the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, and concerns about his safety have increased in the past three weeks when he called for NASCAR to ban the Conference flag. NASCAR announced the ban on June 10.
After the FBI announcement, Wallace tweeted a statement.
– Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 24, 2020
The new Cup garage at Talladega Superspeedway was built in 2019. NASCAR has said that other garage pull ropes it examined Sunday night were not tied in that formation.
“The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door cord designed as a rope had been placed there since last fall,” NASCAR said in a statement Tuesday.
“This was obviously long before the arrival of the 43rd team and the garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s prompt and thorough investigation and are grateful to know that this was not an intentional and racist act against Bubba. “
– NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020
NASCAR President Steve Phelps, who said NASCAR would still investigate why the garage pull rope was tied like a lasso, was scheduled to address the media on Thursday afternoon.
Phelps said Tuesday that he felt calling the FBI was warranted.
“To be clear, we would do this again,” he said. “From the evidence we had, it was clear that we needed to investigate this.”
“Team No. 43 had nothing to do with this.” NASCAR President Steve Phelps with more details on the results of Talladega’s FBI investigation. pic.twitter.com/msk3iGjVul
– FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) June 23, 2020
Teams don’t work much in the garage during the current COVID-19 race day format, where they get off the truck, go through technology, and push the car onto the grill. They only spend a lot of time in a garage position if they fail in technology or need to fix something during the race.
Wallace, speaking on Tuesday night on CNN, said that he had never seen a garage pull a rope like that and that his crew chief Jerry Baxter told him it was not something that could be mistaken for a normal knot in a rope in the garage.
“The picture I have and have seen of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage tug,” says NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.
“It was a rope. Whether it was tied in 2019, or whatever, it was a rope. “Https://t.co/LpRUdKboaH pic.twitter.com/hQGreK5Ofs
– CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) June 24, 2020
Wood Brothers Racing held that spot in the garage last October.
“One of our employees alerted us yesterday morning that, unaware of the details of the incident, he recalled seeing a handle tied to the garage’s pull-down rope since last fall,” Wood Brothers Racing said in a statement.
“We immediately alerted NASCAR and have assisted the investigation in every possible way.”
STATEMENT ON THE COINCIDENCE OF OUR 2019 STALL AND THE INVESTIGATION pic.twitter.com/SJgKus8o8T
– Wood Brothers Racing (@ woodbrothers21) June 23, 2020
Here is a timeline of recent events involving Wallace and NASCAR.
June 1st: Wallace and NASCAR have vowed to advocate for change when it comes to racism and racial inequality.
– NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 1, 2020
June 7th: At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Wallace was wearing a “I can’t breathe” shirt, a NASCAR official knelt down during the national anthem, and several drivers contributed to a video made by Wallace and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson that He said they would advocate for change.
– Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 7, 2020
There was also a moment of silence before the start of the race, followed by NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressing the teams on NASCAR’s commitment to change.
8 of June: A day after Atlanta, Wallace appeared on CNN and asked NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag.
Bubba Wallace on CNN Monday night
“My next step would be to get rid of all the Confederate flags” at NASCAR events pic.twitter.com/3c76cl4h1T
– Alan Cavanna (@AlanCavanna) June 9, 2020
June 10th: NASCAR banned the Confederate flag:
“The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited at all NASCAR events and properties.”
– NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 10, 2020
That same day in Martinsville, Wallace performed a “Black Lives Matter” painting scheme in what he called the “greatest career” of his career.
“Probably the biggest career of my career.” – @BubbaWallace is ready for Martinsville with his machine #BlackLivesMatter No. 43. # HotPass | @RPMotorsports pic.twitter.com/52PsRgqR00
– FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) June 10, 2020
June 21: Protesters with Confederation flags were outside, off the track, in Talladega, and a plane flew alongside the track with the Confederation flag and “Defund NASCAR” message before the race scheduled for Sunday.
The race was postponed until Monday due to rain, before NASCAR released a statement at approximately 10:45 p.m. ET about the discovery of the rope.
NASCAR statement on a rope at the Bubba Wallace garage stall: #nascar pic.twitter.com/rhBpywQ288
– Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 22, 2020
June 22nd: With many in the NASCAR community believing that the act was intentionally directed at Wallace, the drivers, crew members, and the entire garage gathered around No. 43 30 minutes before Monday’s Geico 500.
At 2:45 pm, they pushed the vehicle to the front of the starting grid. The video of the emotional moment quickly became the most viewed tweet in FOX Sports history.
After a rope was found at their garage stall last night, @NASCAR drivers show their support for @BubbaWallace in Talladega. #IStandWIthBubba pic.twitter.com/uFlxmP27qa
– FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 22, 2020
Wallace went ahead 28 laps before finishing 14th.
June 23: At 5:15 pm ET, the FBI released its statement about the garage door cord that had become a tie.
After the FBI investigation was complete, the world of NASCAR, including Wallace’s crew member Freddie Kraft, expressed relief.
Relieved to know that this was a huge misunderstanding, and there is no one in our garage area who has done something like what most people originally thought happened. It doesn’t change anything about the amazing views we saw yesterday. Hopefully we keep moving forward from here.
– Freddie Kraft (@FreddieKraft) June 23, 2020
I am relieved to know that this was not a hate crime and I am still very proud of how our sport came together yesterday. https://t.co/I2KzARnonx
– Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) June 24, 2020
June 25th: NASCAR confirms the photo of the rope turned into a rope at garage number 4 at Talladega Superspeedway.
This is a developing story.