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FBI Says Noose Left In NASCAR Racer Bubba Wallace's Garage Not Intended For Him

Jun 24, 2020
Originally published on June 25, 2020 5:46 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

NASCAR is hailing an announcement by federal law enforcement officials that Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime. Wallace is the only Black driver in stock car racing's top tier. On Sunday, an apparent noose was found in his garage at the famed Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, and that prompted all kinds of federal investigations. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: It was a dramatic turn in what had been an emotionally charged few days. The discovery of a noose in Bubba Wallace's garage area was met with widespread anger inside NASCAR. But then came yesterday's FBI announcement - the noose was there months before Wallace's team was assigned that particular area for Monday's Talladega race. NASCAR convened a quick media conference call yesterday with President Steve Phelps.

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STEVE PHELPS: For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for.

GOLDMAN: Phelps didn't take questions but praised the support Wallace got before the race. As seen on Fox Sports, Wallace - in his No. 43 car - led a slow procession of people walking behind.

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UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR: The drivers and their crews, the entire garage area, has rallied around Bubba Wallace and the No. 43 today.

GOLDMAN: Wallace cried as he reacted to the moment. Last night on CNN, his mood had changed after he read allegations on social media that the FBI's finding of no crime meant Wallace had perpetrated a hoax.

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BUBBA WALLACE: I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity.

GOLDMAN: This month, Wallace successfully lobbied to get the Confederate battle flag banned from NASCAR events. Since then, he's been getting extra security. Meanwhile, NASCAR continues its investigation into why the noose was in a Talladega garage.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.