No hate crime, FBI says -- rope likely used to pull down overhead door

Driver Bubba Wallace takes a selfie with himself and other drivers that pushed his car to the...
Driver Bubba Wallace takes a selfie with himself and other drivers that pushed his car to the front 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. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)(AP Photo/John Bazemore | AP Photo/John Bazemore) (WBAY)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 9:59 AM EDT
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(AP) - The FBI said Tuesday that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime after agents determined the noose found in Wallace’s Talladega, Alabama, garage was there as far back as last fall.

Federal authorities said there will be no charges filed.

The agencies concluded the rope hanging in the garage was fashioned like a noose, but photo evidence revealed it was there in October 2019 — well before Wallace’s arrival. U.S. Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jonnie Sharp Jr. said “nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”

“We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR said in a statement. “We remain steadfast in our commitment in providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”

On Sunday, a crew member for Richard Petty Motorsports discovered the noose at the Alabama race track and alerted NASCAR officials. The racing company then contacted the FBI, which sent 15 agents to investigate.

Wallace is NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver. He made waves earlier this month when he called for the racing league to ban the Confederate flag from its events, which NASCAR then did.

Upon discovering the rope over the weekend, NASCAR said it strongly condemned the “heinous act,” adding it was “angry and outraged.” Wallace had said he was saddened by the “despicable act of racism.” The racing world rallied around Wallace, joining in a walk of solidarity before Monday’s race. An emotional Wallace, who was seen shedding tears following the walk, thanked fans after the race — high-fiving fans seen in “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts.