WASHINGTON — NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced Thursday that NASCAR has completed its investigation into the noose found on Sunday in the Talladega Superspeedway garage stall of Bubba Wallace.
An FBI investigation determined the noose had been in the stall since at least Oct. 2019, but NASCAR had said it still wanted to figure out why it was tied that way in the first place.
Phelps told reporters they determined a garage pull rope had been fashioned into a noose in that particular stall at some point during the Oct. 2019 race weekend. However, they haven't been able to determine who did or that person's intent.
Phelps added that they have since done a complete sweep of the 1,684 garage stalls at the 29 tracks where they race and found only 11 pull ropes had been tied. He stressed that out of every stall they checked, only one rope, the one found Sunday afternoon at Talladega, was tied like a noose.
NASCAR released a photo of the noose, which NASCAR security took a picture of as part of the investigation.
During Thursday's teleconference, Phelps said he finds it "personally offensive" that anyone would suggest this was part of a "hoax" or manufactured.
"The noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba," Phelps explained.
Wallace, the only Black driver who races full-time in NASCAR's top series, has recently been thrust into the national spotlight after successfully pushing NASCAR to ban the confederate flag at its tracks and events.
NASCAR said a member of Bubba Wallace's team first noticed the noose Sunday afternoon and alerted NASCAR. Security then did a full sweep of the garage and found that every other garage had a regular rope pull.
Phelps also stressed that Wallace wasn't told about the noose until a few hours later.
"Bubba Wallace and the 43 team has had nothing to do with this," Phelps added.
Moving forward, NASCAR plans to add additional cameras and do more sweeps of its facilities to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.
Phelps said odds are someone had seen the noose before Sunday but didn't alert anyone or think it was an issue. "We need to do better as an industry," he added.
On Wednesday, Wallace said he was relieved after the FBI investigation revealed the noose found in his garage stall was not part of a hate crime against him.
"Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we've made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all," he added. Before Monday's race, the entire NASCAR garage walked alongside Wallace's car as it was pushed down pit road. The moment brought Wallace to tears.