Not a hoax: A lack of charges after discovery of noose in Bubba Wallace's garage doesn't mean it was a ploy
A crew member's investigation of a tied rope in Bubba Wallace's garage stall came to an unexpected conclusion on Tuesday when the FBI and U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama found the loop was in Wallace's garage stall No federal suits have been brought since NASCAR last visited Talladega Superspeedway in October 2019.
According to NASCAR President Steve Phelps, this was "the best result we could hope for", as the sanction agency feared that the snare could be put into Wallace's stall by someone with shameful intentions within the industry.
After all, the rain-delayed event on Monday was the first race in the Cup series on the famous Alabama circuit since NASCAR prohibited the Confederate flags from flying on their course properties. Wallace, the only black driver driving full-time in NASCAR, had spoken out in favor of this ban and had recently driven a Black Lives Matter car in Martinsville.
When 15 FBI agents examined the noose that the crew member had discovered in Wallace's garage, the drivers pushed car # 43 down the pit lane and stood with Wallace at pre-race ceremonies to show solidarity for the driver and all of them to be more open to social change.
And while no one will face criminal charges or the potential lifelong ban on NASCAR that threatened it on Sunday evening, the lack of charges just means that no one will be exposed to criminal charges after Sunday's discovery.
This does not mean that 15 FBI agents have been brought in to investigate a joke. When a lack of fees automatically equates to a joke, any federal, state, and local investigation that has not produced fee collection documents is based on a joke. We all know that this is not the case.
And on a more humane level, why the hell should Phelps call Wallace on Sunday afternoon to tell him about the noose and get one of his breakout mainstream stars through emotional and exhausting 48 hours to cheat the sports world? It wouldn't do that. Nobody would do that.
This was not a joke. The FBI and the U.S. attorney would not directly reference the noose three times in their statement if it did. The truth from NASCAR is and always has been that a crew member on Wallace's team discovered a noose in his garage stand.
What is also obvious is the severity with which NASCAR approached the Sunday discovery. Phelps said in a phone call to reporters on Tuesday evening that the sanctions agency would do nothing else if there was a revision.
Bubba Wallace had the support of his colleagues in Talladega this week. (AP Photo / John Bazemore)
"[Wallace's team] had nothing to do with it," Phelps said. “The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage was previously in the garage. The last race we had there in October, that noose was there, and it was - the fact that it was only found when a member of the 43 team got there is a fact. "
"We weren't in the garage yet. It was a quick one day show. The crew member went back inside. He looked and saw the noose, alerted his crew chief, who then went to NASCAR series director Jay Fabian, and we initiated the investigation. "
Phelps asked no questions in his statement to reporters, saying a NASCAR investigation into the origin of the noose has not yet been completed. When this investigation is complete, NASCAR will need to be even more transparent than it was on Sunday night when the discovery of the noose was announced.
Phelps added in a statement after his call that the garage rope in stall 4 - Wallace's stall - was the only garage space where a rope was looped. And shortly after the FBI and U.S. attorney Jay Town announced that no charges would be brought, Wood Brothers Racing said it occupied the same garage stand in October, and one crew member recalled seeing a rope tied in this way to have.
The memory, the team said, came Monday morning when NASCAR and the FBI investigated the discovery on Sunday. This probably led to Tuesday's decision.
As one of the few black drivers who made it to the highest level of NASCAR, Wallace was always aware of its unique place in a series with deep roots in the south. He has seen the Confederate flags on rails for much of his life. And as the only black driver who drives full-time today, events in NASCAR and around the world in the past three months have burdened him more than others.
He was one of the few drivers who spoke up in April after Kyle Larson said the N-word during a virtual race and was subsequently released by Chip Ganassi Racing. He said he told Larson that the word came out of his mouth too easily.
With most drivers remaining silent in public when Larson disappeared from the Cup series, the same silence could have been seen again after George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis on May 25. However, when protests against racial injustices took place nationwide, Wallace urged his competitors to talk about systemic racism and inequality.
His efforts were so successful that drivers recorded a video prior to the Atlanta race on June 7, and Phelps addressed the sanctions agency's lack of diversity in a pre-race speech that preceded a moment of silence.
Wallace knew that his urge to say more would involve a certain setback. There was a vocal segment of the NASCAR fan community that was upset about the decision to ban Confederate flags. And he had previously admitted after the flag ban that he would probably have to be more careful when going to the infield on racetracks when the fans returned.
Talladega, a place where fans used to hoist Confederate flags in the infield for a long time, has probably always been a place of the biggest setback. Even if there are only a limited number of grandstands available for the Monday race, the history of the region makes it entirely understandable why NASCAR is extremely serious about discovering a rope tied like a noose. It could easily have examined the presence of the rope itself and kept this investigation under wraps.
It was not like that. While you may think that Tuesday's revelation that the noose was there for nine months makes NASCAR's preliminary investigation seem stupid, the public support Wallace has received from NASCAR and its competitors in its fight against systemic racism, real. And anything but stupid.
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Nick Bromberg is an author for Yahoo Sports.
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