NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace insists the rope found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway was a noose, even if it wasn't meant for him.
On Sunday, a member of Wallace's Richard Petty crew found the offending article in the garage leading the FBI to open an investigation.
Wallace himself never came into direct contact with the noose.
Integrity..something nobody will ever be able to take away from me.
God will always test us to show how strong we truly are.
Still standing proud and still smiling.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 24, 2020
The incident led to emotional scenes of support from his fellow NASCAR drivers, when they pushed his car to the front of the grid for Monday's race.
On Tuesday night, the Justice Department said that the noose had been present in the garage "as early as October 2019".
They added, "Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week".
It's been claimed that the noose was in fact a door tie left by previous occupants, but Wallace believes otherwise.
"From the evidence that we have — that I have," he told CNN's Don Lemon, "It’s a straight-up noose.”
"Whether someone tied it in 2019…It wasn’t directed at me,” said Wallace, “but it was a noose."
Despite the fact that Wallace did not himself discover the noose, and had to be told about it by a crew member, right-wing trolls have questioned the 26-year old's character.
"I’m pissed,” he told Lemon. “I’m mad because people are trying to steal my character.
"It doesn’t matter if we provide evidence, photos, it will always be photoshopped. I will always have haters."
Wallace described how one of his Richard Petty Motorsports crew members discovered the noose.
"About 5:30 6 o’clock on Sunday evening, I was about to go out to dinner with a couple competitors and I get a phone call from [NASCAR] president, Steve Phelps.
"I immediately think, ‘What did I do? What have I done?'
"The look on his face,” he said of Phelps, “I will never forget.”
"The conversation I had with Steve Phelps was probably one of the hardest things he had ever done. Tears rolling down his face."
Before the people of Alabama get all self-righteous about the noose incident... Let's not pretend that Talladega was a bastion of racial harmony last Sunday. pic.twitter.com/7rHijgif3B
— Josh Moon 🇺🇸 (@Josh_Moon) June 23, 2020
The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.
The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall.
This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment.
We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.