NASCAR President Steve Phelps reiterated his support Monday for Bubba Wallace, saying whoever committed a racist, hateful act directed at the Richard Petty Motorsports driver will be barred from the sport for life.
Phelps conducted a teleconference Monday, providing some details about the investigation surrounding a noose found Sunday at the RPM No. 43 garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway. The NASCAR Cup Series was scheduled to race Sunday at the 2.66-mile Alabama track, but storms and showers pushed the 500-mile event to a Monday afternoon start.
Phelps said he was unable to answer all questions about the scope of the investigation, citing its ongoing nature. He reiterated the sanctioning body’s stance from Sunday evening, saying “there is no place for racism in NASCAR. This act only strengthens our resolve to make this sport open and welcoming to all.”
Phelps said the Birmingham office of the FBI was involved, using all resources available to NASCAR, the teams and the bureau to identify the culprit and expel him or her from the sanctioning body’s activities.
“Unequivocally they will be banned from this sport for life,” Phelps said. “There is no room for this at all. We won’t tolerate it. They won’t be here. I don’t care who they are, they will not be here.”
Access to the Talladega garage area this weekend has been limited to essential personnel as the sport tries to gradually resume operations after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. This weekend, 5,000 ticket-holders were permitted in the track’s grandstands, but the garage area was restricted.
Phelps said he could not state with certainty that there were no security breaches in the garage, but said that investigators would be able to narrow down who was granted access to that area.
Track personnel painted the message “#IStandWithBubba” on the speedway’s infield grass before Monday’s rain-delayed start. Phelps said he supported the message and stood behind plans for a pre-race commemoration involving drivers and teams on pit road.
“The drivers feel very strongly that they want to show their support of Bubba,” Phelps said. “He’s a member of the NASCAR community. He’s a member of the NASCAR family. The outpouring of support over the last couple weeks from our drivers, from the industry as a whole, from the fans, has been phenomenal. Whatever happens, it’s going to happen organically. It will be heartfelt. I’m looking forward to whatever they come up with.”