NASCAR Speaks Out, Says They Regret Not Using the Word "Alleged" in Rope Incident
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On Thursday while speaking to reporters, NASCAR President Steve Phelps spoke out on the FBI investigation into the "noose" that was found in race car driver Bubba Wallace's garage. Phelps repeated the claim that the rope was “fashioned like a noose” and that the thought that Wallace was involved in a hate crime "was real."
The President did stress that NASCAR should have been more cautious instead of jumping to conclusions.
“Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver,” Phelps said on Thursday. “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.”
Phelps did take responsibility for the massive failure.
“In hindsight, I should have used the word ‘alleged’ in our statement,” said the NASCAR president. “As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba."
On Wednesday, Wallace changed his tone in a new statement after the FBI found that there was no evidence of a hate crime in relation to a garage door pull down rope used in Wallace's temporary garage.
Instead of whining about the "noose" found in the garage like he did during an interview with CNN host Don Lemon, Wallace said he was relieved that he was not a victim of a hate crime.
“It’s been an emotional few days,” the statement from Wallace started. “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 added.
On Tuesday, NASCAR released a statement on what the FBI found during their investigation, noting that “the garage pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall”:
The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBl’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.
“I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been,” Wallace said.
“Make no mistake,” he continued, “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 become a more welcoming environment for all.”
This new statement from Wallace is much different than his original reaction when he found out that the FBI found no evidence of a hate crime.
“None of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down,” Wallace said. “Will it piss me off? Absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up, to get back out on the race track next weekend in Pocono, and showcase what I can do behind the wheel. Tremendous amounts of BS (bulls***), whatever it is that you want to say, you won’t break me, you won’t tear me down. Again, I will still stand proud of where I’m at.”
“I have been racing all my life. We have raced out of hundreds of garages. They never had garage pulls like that,” the driver added. “People that call it a garage pull and put out videos and photos of knots being in as their evidence, go ahead. But from the evidence that we have, that I have. It’s a straight up noose.”
“The FBI has stated that it was a noose, over and over again,” continued Wallace. “NASCAR leadership has stated it was a noose. I can confirm that. I actually got evidence of what was hanging in my garage over my car, to confirm that it was a noose.”
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