After announcing that the FBI concluded the rope found in race car driver Bubba Wallace's garage was not linked to a hate crime, NASCAR has released an image of the cable — a reported garage pull that was initially believed to represent a noose.As reported by The Athletic Motorsports reporter Jeff Gluck, NASCAR president Steve Phelps claimed that he should have used the word "alleged" when describing the situation as a hate crime. Nevertheless, Phelps reportedly claimed that the "noose" itself was "real," as was the "concern" for Wallace, Breitbart reported.
"NASCAR says it investigated how the noose got there in the first place," Gluck reported. "It was tied sometime during the October 2019 race weekend, but NASCAR was unable to determine who did it. It asked all 29 tracks to look for other nooses this week and this was the only one found."
Phelps took "full responsibility" for the wrong wording of the incident and said any suggestion that Wallace was involved — some have compared him to Jussie Smollett — is "offensive." Phelps also claimed that the fact that the rope remained in the garage for such a long period of time is a "problem."
"Odds are someone saw it and didn't react negatively to it. We need to make sure that doesn't happen in the future. We need to do better as an industry."According to Fox Sports, the coronavirus pandemic has generally pushed teams outside of the garage due to the new race day format. The publication claims that time spent in the garage in the current format typically stems from technical failures or mid-race repairs.
The incident has sparked pushback from some social media figures, including Jack Posobiec, who noted the size of the rope and the way it was portrayed in some media articles, and Eric Weinstein. Other social media users, including Habitu8 founder Chad Loder, suggested that the presence of the rope in Wallace's garage is too coincidental not to be racially linked.According to The Washington Post, Wallace was assigned the stall with the rope due to coronavirus protocols, which have changed the standard stall assignment procedure. While protocol typically assigns stalls based on standing, COVID-19 protocol led to Wallace, who was 20th in the standings, to be assigned to stall No. 4.
Wallace previously called for NASCAR to ban displays of the Confederate flag on its tracks, which ultimately pushed Phelps to announce a decision to do so earlier this month.