Hours after the FBI and NASCAR revealed that Bubba Wallace was not subjected to a hate crime when a noose was found in his garage prior to Sunday's Cup Series race at Talladega, the driver of the No. 43 appeared on CNN for an interview. Host Don Lemon asked Wallace about his side of the story and for his reaction to the results of this investigation.
Wallace began by recounting how he found out about the noose itself. In his telling, he received a call from NASCAR president Steve Phelps, who asked to meet with him in person about a serious matter. When he eventually did meet with the driver, Phelps broke down in tears while informing Wallace about the noose that had been found--Wallace also mentioned Phelps saying something about a "hate crime."
THREAD: Here's Bubba Wallace's full CNN interview with Don Lemon.— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 24, 2020
In his first reaction to it not being a hate crime, Bubba immediately expresses anger at critics: "I'm pissed. I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity." pic.twitter.com/R4C8k15ife
After he finished recounting the rest of the story that had already been widely reported, he spoke on the investigation's findings and the noose itself. His first response was simply that the knot that was tied in his garage was not normal.
"The image that I have, that I have seen, of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage loop," he said on CNN. "I've been racing all of my life, we've raced out of hundreds of garages that have never had garage pulls like that."
The investigations by the FBI and NASCAR concluded on Tuesday that the noose in question was a knot tied to make bringing down the garage's door easier. They also found that it was a knot that had been around since the last big race at Talladega in Oct. 2019. Still, the look of the rope didn't sit well with Wallace, regardless of its function -- though it's worth noting he accepts the finding that this wasn't a hate crime directed at him.
"It was a noose," he said. "Whether it was tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. It wasn't directed at me, but someone tied a noose. It is a noose."
On Wednesday, one day after his appearance on CNN, Wallace took to Twitter to further explains his thoughts on the incident.
"It's been an emotional few days. 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 thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat," Wallace wrote. "I think we'll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been. Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we've made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all."
Wallace finished 14th in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, a career-best for him at that track, after fellow drivers and crew members helped walk his car up to the front of the pack in a show of solidarity.