By Staff Report
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NASCAR President Steve Phelps detailed Thursday afternoon via teleconference findings from NASCAR’s internal investigation, which has concluded, into the noose found in the garage stall of No. 43 driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.
A photo of the noose was released by the sanctioning body earlier Thursday, one day after an FBI investigation concluded no federal hate crime was committed against Wallace, who is Black, and the noose had been on the garage door at Talladega since October 2019.
Phelps also detailed both the timeline of events from discovery through the completion of the investigation — scroll to the bottom of this story for the full timeline — and NASCAR’s next steps moving forward.
“Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver,” Phelps said. “We’re living in a highly charged and emotional time. What we saw was a symbol of hate and was only present in one area of the garage and that was of the 43 car of Bubba Wallace. In hindsight, I should have used the word ‘alleged’ in our statement.
“As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba. With similar emotion, others across our industry and our media stood up to defend the NASCAR family. Our NASCAR family. Because they are part of the NASCAR family, too. We are proud to see so many stand up for what’s right.”
Phelps outlined specific steps NASCAR would take moving forward. It includes sensitivity and unconscious bias training for all members of the industry, additional, thorough sweeps through the garage areas and installation of additional cameras in all garages.
MORE: NASCAR statement on FBI investigation
“Our ultimate conclusion for this investigation is to ensure that this never happens again, that no one walks by a noose without recognizing the potential damage it can do,” Phelps said. “Going forward, our efforts are best spent on making sure every competitor feels safe and every guest feels welcome. I would also like to reinforce that what we did see at Talladega in pre-race on Monday, our drivers, crews and officials proudly demonstrated that we are united in the belief that there is no place for racism in our sport.”
After Sunday’s discovery, NASCAR officials asked each track to sweep through respective garages. Across the 1,684 garage stalls at 29 tracks, NASCAR found only 11 total had a pull-down rope tied in a knot and only one noose — the one discovered Sunday in the No. 43 garage stall.
Wallace has become more outspoken in recent weeks as he has championed causes to fight racial injustice. Other drivers in the NASCAR garage have rallied behind his message and showed their support Monday before the GEICO 500 at Talladega.
“Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this,” Phelps reiterated Thursday. ” … I want to thank Bubba Wallace and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports. Specifically, I want to thank Bubba for his leadership over this past three weeks. Bubba has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity and he stood tall for what he believes in. And we all need to stand with him. I know I’m going to.”
Sunday, June 21
~ 4:30 p.m.: NASCAR alerted to the presence of the noose by member of No. 43 team. NASCAR security performs full sweep of the garage. Only the pull rope of the 43 team was discovered to be a noose; all the others were regular ropes.
~ 6 p.m.: NASCAR senior leadership meets, determines need for investigation and begins initial steps of the investigation.
~ 7:30 p.m.: NASCAR President Steve Phelps notifies Bubba Wallace of noose discovered in garage.
~ 10:40 p.m.: NASCAR releases statement after continuing to gather facts and further investigation.
Monday, June 22
– Early Monday a.m.: FBI Birmingham office reaches out to NASCAR.
~ 10 a.m.: FBI arrives at Talladega Superspeedway with 15 field agents to begin investigation. NASCAR provides the FBI with a list of personnel with access to the garage, as well as video and images taken from the weekend and the 2019 fall weekend as well.
– Over the course of the day: FBI interviews race team personnel from multiple teams, NASCAR officials, track, fire and safety personnel and track custodial staff. Talladega Superspeedway also provides the FBI with a list of events that had taken place since October 2019, which is when the new garages opened.
– End of the day: FBI reports interviews are complete for the day and the evidence at that point was inconclusive, with plans to continue its investigation the next morning.
Tuesday, June 23
– Early Tuesday a.m.: NASCAR receives additional video and provides it to the FBI. The video corroborated the testimony from one of the interviews the FBI had conducted earlier that the noose was present in that stall during the fall 2019 Cup event. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI informed NASCAR that their investigation had conclusively found this was not a hate crime.
– 4:10. p.m.: FBI releases statement indicating findings of investigation.
– 4:15 p.m.: After awaiting signal from the FBI, NASCAR releases statement on FBI investigation, with teleconference that follows.