NASCAR’s regret over the Bubba Wallace noose situation

Bubba Wallace, Richard Petty Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Bubba Wallace, Richard Petty Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR president Steve Phelps admitted that his regret over the Bubba Wallace noose situation was leaving out one word from the initial statement.

Former Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace recently recalled much of what was a chaotic 2020 for SportsCenter Presents 2020: Heroes, History and Hope.

Among the things he discussed was when an apparent noose was found in the garage stall of the #43 team at Talladega Superspeedway back in June.

It proved to be nothing more than a garage pull rope fashioned like a noose.

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But given the tension surrounding Wallace at the time from his embrace of Black Lives Matter and his call for NASCAR to ban the Confederate Flag (which was then flown at Talladega by fans in protests), NASCAR got the FBI involved for an investigation. NASCAR president Steve Phelps even called it a hate crime.

As a result of the fact that it was discovered that no hate crime was committed, many made out Wallace to be the bad guy, with some even going as far as comparing him to hate hoaxer Jussie Smollett.

That’s why it’s important, especially given the fact that Wallace has again been in the spotlight for this very matter with SportsCenter Presents 2020: Heroes, History and Hope as well as the fact that the 2021 season is rapidly approaching, to remember and reiterate that, while NASCAR did not issue a formal apology like many would have wanted, Phelps did admit that he had one regret regarding how the sport handled the situation.

He admitted that he regretted not using the word “alleged” in NASCAR’s initial statement about the noose which stated that a “heinous act” had been committed against the sport’s lone African-American driver.

Here is the full statement released at the time, a statement suggesting that there was no way it was anything other than a hate crime.

"“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. We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”"

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Of course, no one was responsible for any sort of a heinous act, hence why Phelps regrets the wording of this statement. With nothing confirmed at the time and with nothing having come of what turned out to be a garage door pull, NASCAR could have prevented some loss of credibility by adding that word, and Phelps understands that.

But unfortunately, suffice it to say that even if the wording had been different, there still would have been the backlash against Wallace suggesting that he was in on it from the start, which we know not to be true given how the situation unfolded from start to finish.

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While he won’t be back behind the wheel of the #43 Chevrolet this upcoming season, Wallace is still set to compete in the Cup Series in 2021. He is set to drive the #23 Toyota for 23XI Racing, the new team started by NBA legend Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin. The season is scheduled to get underway with the 63rd annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 14.