No charge in NASCAR rope incident involving black driver Bubba Wallace

The rope that was found hanging at Bubba Wallace’s garage stall in Talladega Superspeedway had been there at least since last October, federal authorities said Tuesday in announcing that no charges will be filed in an incident that shook NASCAR and its sole driver. black full time.

US Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said an investigation determined that “although the rope is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, no one could have known that Mr. Wallace would be last assigned to garage number 4. ” week.”

A member of the Richard Petty Motorsports crew discovered the knot on Sunday at the Alabama race track. NASCAR was alerted and contacted the FBI, which sent 15 officers to the track to investigate. They determined that no federal crime was committed.

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The statement said the garage position was assigned to Wallace last week before the race scheduled for Sunday but was held Monday due to rain. Through the video confirmed by NASCAR, it was discovered that the rope “was in that garage as early as October 2019.”

The agencies said the evidence did not support the federal charges. NASCAR said a checkup of every other position in the garage showed that the one in Wallace’s car was the only one in which the pull rope had become a loop.

Wallace successfully launched the stock car series to ban the Confederate flag in its places less than two weeks ago. Some lifelong fans have criticized the ban, and Wallace, a 26-year-old Alabama native who has worn a “I can’t breathe” shirt over his fire suit in the past month, had stepped up security. His painting scheme for a career in Virginia was Black Lives Matter.

NASCAR said in a statement that “the FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the knot-shaped garage door cord had been placed there since last fall. This obviously was long before the arrival of ’43. equipment and garage allowance. “

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the series continues its own investigation to determine why a rope had been in that garage stall. He added that it was not directed at Wallace, it was “a great conclusion for us,” but he remained adamant that NASCAR would have conducted its investigation the same way, even now, knowing it was not a hate crime.

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“We would have done the same research. It was important to us, “he said, stressing that Wallace’s racing team had nothing to do with the incident.

“The evidence was very clear that the rope that was in the garage was there previously. The last race we had in October, that rope was present. The evidence that we had, it was clear that we needed to investigate this.”

The Wood Brothers Racing team said one of its employees told the team they remembered “having seen a handle tied in the garage pulling the rope since last fall,” when NASCAR ran in Talladega in October. The team said it immediately alerted NASCAR and aided the investigation.

The discovery of the rope surprised the stock car series, as it is taking an active position in an attempt at inclusion while distancing itself from its rocky racial history. The series first attempted to ban the Confederate flag five years ago, but did nothing to enforce the order.

Two weeks ago, Wallace renewed the call for the ban and NASCAR responded, but has not yet detailed how it will stop the exhibition. Talladega marked the first race since the coronavirus pandemic in which fans were allowed (5,000 were allowed to buy tickets) and some annoyed with the flag ban paraded past the main entrance with the symbol of the South. On Sunday, a banner on the race track waved a Confederate flag reading “Defund NASCAR.”

NASCAR announced Sunday night that the knot had been discovered and the industry rallied around Wallace. His 39 rival drivers and crews helped push Wallace’s car to the front of the pit road ahead of the national anthem and stood behind him in solidarity.

Wallace was joined by his team’s owner, Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, who gently placed a hand on Wallace’s shoulder as he sobbed. Wallace after the race went to fencing along the stands and greeted supporters. Many were black and wore “I can’t breathe” shirts.

“It’s been hectic, you know, carrying this weight,” he said. “I’m proud to be where I am and bring a new face. Look (at these fans). Is this the first time you’ve been here? Since Atlanta? That’s great! The sport is changing.”