Nascar driver Bubba Wallace on Tuesday night defended his and the sport’s reaction to the “noose” found in his garage in light of FBI findings that the rope was actually a garage door pull.
The FBI issued a statement earlier Tuesday that the pull rope was simply fashioned like a noose and that video evidence showed it had been hanging in the garage from at least October 2019 when a previous occupier used the space.
“From the evidence that we have — that I have, it’s a straight-up noose,” said Wallace, one of the most popular African-American drivers in the sport, during an appearance with Don Lemon on CNN.
It’s not uncommon for garages at NASCAR tracks to have rope pulls, though they’re not usually tied in such a fashion, Wallace added.
“The image that I have, and I have seen, of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull…we’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that,” Wallace said, noting that the FBI in its statement referred to the rope as a “noose.”
“Whether someone tied it in 2019…It wasn’t directed at me,” Wallace went on, “but it was a noose.”
Wallace said he was first notified of the noose by NASCAR President Stephen Phelps on Sunday evening, with Phelps detailing what he described to Wallace as a”hate crime.”
The noose was discovered in light of nationwide civil unrest over the police killing of George Floyd and the announcement by NASCAR that it would ban Confederate flags from their races.
Wallace, a vocal proponent of the decision, had worn a shirt reading “I can’t breathe” and raced with a “black lives matter” decal on the side of his car.
Wallace said he strived to “make sure that we weren’t jumping the gun” by calling out the noose and had his team confirm that the rope was clearly tied as such.
Wallace added he was ultimately upset that his detractors are using the incident as fuel to attack his character.
“I’m pissed. I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and person that I am and my integrity,” Wallace said. “They’re not stealing that away from me, but they’re just trying to test that.”
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