NASCAR has revealed that a noose was found in the garage of Bubba Wallace's No. 43 team during Sunday's Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The company released a statement on Sunday night stating they are "angry and outraged" and will be launching an investigation to identify the culprit(s).
"Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."
On Monday, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town announced the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Alabama, the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are reviewing the situation and determining whether there were violations of federal law.
No fans were allowed in the infield at Talladega on Sunday, which suggests that whoever left the noose in Wallace's garage had credentials to be present in that area. Wallace is the only Black driver who currently competes at NASCAR's top level.
According to Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass, NASCAR will also be working with police to determine if any crimes were committed in the incident.
Wallace released a statement on Sunday night as well.
"Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism," wrote Wallace in a message shared to Twitter. "Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.
"As my mother told me today, 'they are just trying to scare you.' This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."
Another more prominent Black athlete, LeBron James, showed his support for Wallace and NASCAR.
Sickening! @BubbaWallace my brother! Know you don’t stand alone! I’m right here with you as well as every other athlete. I just want to continue to say how proud I am of you for continuing to take a stand for change here in America and sports! @NASCAR I salute you as well! 🙏🏾✊🏾👑 https://t.co/1TwkjVHai5— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 22, 2020
But James wasn't alone in his support, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. also had a message for Wallace on Twitter.
Hope Bubba wins it tomorrow.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 22, 2020
Wallace has been a vocal advocate for Black Lives Matter. He recently campaigned for NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from all events to promote a more welcoming and diverse environment, and NASCAR quickly decided to follow Wallace's advice.
Sunday's scheduled race, which was postponed until Monday because of inclement weather, would have been the first race in the state of Alabama since the Confederate flag ban was implemented. On Sunday afternoon, a plane flew a Confederate flag over Talladega with the message "Defund NASCAR" attached to the banner.