It has been an emotional 24 hours for Bubba Wallace after a noose was found in his garage stall on Sunday before the race was rescheduled due to inclement weather. After the race, Wallace sprinted to the grandstands to high-five the fans who were in attendance at Talladega Speedway after the GEICO 500.
“This is probably the most bad-ass moment right here,” Wallace told Fox as he pointed to the crowd. “It’s been tough, it’s been hell. Ah, I wouldn’t say hell, it’s just been hectic. Carrying this weight and carrying this burden. I wouldn’t really say burden either, I’m proud to stand where I’m at and carry a new face…Look at this, ‘First time, right here? From Atlanta?’ That is so cool. The sport is changing. The deal that happened yesterday…Sorry, I’m not wearing my mask, but I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile. I’m going to keep on going.”
Here is a look at an emotional Wallace greeting fans after the race.
"The sport is changing … Whoever it was, you're not gonna take away my smile."- @BubbaWallace
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) June 23, 2020
NASCAR Drivers Pushed Wallace’s No. 43 Car to the Front Before the Race
This is amazing!!!!
The drivers are pushing Bubba’s car to the front of the grid!!!! https://t.co/N4sVO9UXME
— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) June 22, 2020
Prior to the race, NASCAR drivers gathered together to push Wallace’s car to the front of pit road as an act of solidarity. It was reportedly Jimmy Johnson’s idea but other drivers quickly joined him to show Wallace their support. Hours after the noose was found, Wallace took to Twitter to emphasize he would keep standing up for what he believes is right.
“This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down,” Wallace noted at the end of his statement. “I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
NASCAR Has Launched an Investigation & Is Prepared to Ban the Perpetrator From the Sport
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 22, 2020
NASCAR has launched a full investigation to find out who planted the noose in the No. 43 stall. ESPN’s Marty Smith reported that NASCAR is prepared to ban the person from the sport. NASCAR released a statement describing the organization as “angry and outraged.”
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR said in a statement (via ESPN). “We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.”
NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced that it will be a joint investigation with the FBI to find out who committed the act. Phelps admitted the possibilities are limited given the current COVID-19 capacity restrictions NASCAR has implemented.
“We have a very small number of people that are in the footprint,” Phelps said, per NPR. “Only essential personnel who [were] there. Obviously we’ll review the entire list with the FBI about who had access at that particular time. We also use something called compartmentalization – we look at who was in that particular area and we’ll able to narrow that down.”