NASCAR has released a picture of the garage pull "noose" that was found in driver Bubba Wallace's stall.
The image shows a rope that is tied into a loop that is wrapped seven times and secured with a knot – strongly resembling a noose.
However, the FBI has confirmed that no hate crime had been committed and the rope was in fact already in the garage before Wallace and his team arrived.
The 26-year-old, who is the sport's only Black competitor, had said he was the target of a hate crime, after his pivotal role in banning the Confederate flag from rallies.
The claim – in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests – touched a raw nerve as nooses were used in the lynching of African Americans in the South.
But after the FBI confirmed that the rope had been there since 2019, the Black driver said he was "relieved."
The photo was released as:
- Wallace said he's "being tested"and rejected the "hoax"
- It was said that the "noose" was actually a "garage door rope"
- Drivers rallied around the Black star on Monday
- The driver said he was "pissed" over the claims that he staged the "noose"
In a statement released on Wednesday, the driver said: "…First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn't what we feared it was.
"I want to thanks my team, Nascar and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat.
"I think we'll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been…"
On Thursday, Nascar confirmed that the investigation into the rope at the No. 43 garage stall was completed.
President Steve Phelps said in a statement: "Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver.
"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.
Phelps continued: "As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba."
"Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this. Bubba Wallace has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity."
The sporting body also confirmed that across 1,684 garage stalls at the 29 tracks, NASCAR found only 11 that had pull-down ropes.
Out of those 11, only one – that was discovered in Bubba's stall at Talladega – was a "noose."
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