Rope found hanging in Wallace's garage was coincidence

Driver Bubba Wallace, front left, and team owner Richard Petty, front right, stand for the National Anthem in the pits of the Talladega Superspeedway prior to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega Ala., Monday June 22, 2020. In an extraordinary act of solidarity with NASCAR’s only Black driver, dozens of drivers pushed the car belonging to Bubba Wallace to the front of the field before Monday’s race as FBI agents nearby tried to find out who left a noose in his garage stall over the weekend.

Somebody has some explaining to do.

The FBI said Tuesday that NASCAR star Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime when a pull rope was found in the driver's garage at Talladega Superspeedway. The FBI sent 15 agents to the investigation. It won't file charges.

The Wallace story erupted when a member of Richard Petty Motorsports claimed a "noose" was hanging from the garage of Wallace, who is NASCAR's only full-time black driver. The FBI's investigation determined the rope had been in place since last fall, long before the garage was assigned to Wallace's team.

"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," NASCAR said in a statement. "This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment.

"We appreciate the FBI'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."

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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