NASCAR announced on Tuesday that the "loop" found in Bubba Wallace's garage at the Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday was, in fact, a rope used to open the garage door, but in the shape of a loop.
The announcement came just behind the FBI, saying that no federal crimes were committed last weekend on the track. The agency, in its statement, said the rope had been on the track since last October.
"For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for," Steve Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR said in a media conference call (by Fox Sports). "It is worrying to hear that one of our people was thought to have committed this heinous act. It is fantastic to hear definitively from the FBI that there was no hate crime."
Phelps added that "Team 43 (Wallace's Richard Petty Motorsports team) had nothing to do with it."
Prior to Monday, NASCAR last ran in Talladega on October 14. It was originally scheduled to return to the runway on April 26 this year, but the event was postponed when NASCAR was shut down by the outbreak of COVID-19. On Tuesday, Phelps continued to refer to the rope as a "loop".
"The evidence is very clear that the loop that was in that garage was in the garage previously. The last race we had there in October was there," he said. Per Fox Sports, Phelps said the rope was the only one in the garage area that was shaped like a loop.
Apologies for not knowing who originally created this image, but she made the rounds on Twitter and ended up correct. You can see in the photo on the left that the rope was in the form of a loop – apparently like a loop – last year and then cut as evidence on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/MIrtF3uqtN
– Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) June 23, 2020
On Tuesday, Wood Brothers Racing announced that one of his employees informed the team on Monday that "he remembered seeing a strap tied to the rope in the garage last fall". The organization said it "immediately" informed NASCAR.
NASCAR announced Sunday night that the rope was found in Wallace's bay. Phelps confirmed on Tuesday that a member of Team 43 located him and reported him to the team leader, who reported him to NASCAR.
"To make it clear, we would do this again," said Phelps. "The evidence we had, it was clear that we needed to investigate this." Phelps added that NASCAR will continue to investigate the matter.
The condemnation of the alleged racist act was swift. NASCAR called it a "heinous act" and Phelps promised to expel whoever was responsible from the sport. Wallace, the only black World Cup driver, said that it was a "despicable act of racism and hatred". NASCAR asked the FBI to investigate.
NASCAR joined with Wallace in believing that a hate crime had been committed. Before Monday's rescheduled race, drivers and teams walked alongside their 43rd car Richard Petty Motorsports as they pushed him to the front of the line during the pre-race ceremonies. Wallace led the race briefly, but finished 14th after running out of fuel.
"(Monday), for me, as a sport, it was one of the most important days we had", Phelps said.
"Everyone's belief is that someone was attacking a member of our family," he added. "It turned out that this was not the case, but at the time it was what our industry thought."