The person or persons responsible for putting a noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega on Sunday will be banned from NASCAR for life. But NASCAR and federal investigators have to find whoever is responsible first.
NASCAR president Steve Phelps said Monday that the search for whoever put the noose in the garage is still ongoing. NASCAR called the FBI on Monday morning and the FBI is on-site at Talladega investigating. Wallace is the only Black driver who races full-time at any of NASCAR’s top three levels.
“Obviously this is a very, very serious act and we take it as such,” Phelps said. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that whoever has committed this act comes to justice and comes to light and weed this type of behavior from our sport.”
Phelps said NASCAR would not comment about the specifics of the camera system set up in the Talladega garage or if the incident was captured on surveillance footage. Phelps did note that NASCAR’s social distancing coronavirus protocols limited the number of people who had access to the garage area on Sunday, though he couldn’t rule out a breach of security protocols. He did say that security was “very tight” getting in and out of the garage and infield areas.
“We have a very small number of people who are in the footprint, only essential personnel who are there” Phelps said. “Obviously we’ll review the entire list with the FBI about who had access at that particular time. We can also use something called compartmentalization, we can look at who is in that particular area and we’ll be able to narrow that down.”
Sunday’s Cup Series race was pushed to Monday because of thunderstorms. That means that an FBI investigation could be ongoing in the garage as Wallace and 39 other drivers are racing around the 2.66-mile Talladega tri-oval. And that NASCAR will be hosting a race without knowing exactly who the perpetrator is.
“We’re going to use every effort we can to determine who has done this, whether it’s a single person or multiple people,” Phelps said. “I know that the director of the FBI has informed the Birmingham office to use all their resources to find out, as well, all the resources available to NASCAR, the FBI. The teams and drivers and anyone who would have any access to this have all said, Hey, we want to make sure we figure out who has done this vile act.”
Wallace’s car owner Richard Petty will be in attendance on Monday to show support for Wallace. The seven-time NASCAR champion hasn’t attended a race during the coronavirus pandemic since NASCAR resumed racing on May 17. Petty said in a statement Monday morning that he was “enraged” by the noose put in the garage stall.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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