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TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - JUNE 22: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, speaks to the media after the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The FBI has determined that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime, according to ESPN. They report that a “pull rope” fashioned like a noose had been on a garage door at Talladega Superspeedway since as early as last fall.

“The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall,” NASCAR said in a statement. “This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment.”

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

 

While some racing fans on social media have been comparing Bubba Wallace’s situation to that of Jussie Smollett (the actor who, in 2019, alleged that two people who he described as white men attacked him and tied a rope around his neck; Chicago Police later determined that Smollett staged the attack), there are some important distinctions, as writer Jeff Gluck pointed out on Twitter: “Do not blame Bubba Wallace. He never saw it and wasn’t the one to report it. He was TOLD about it by NASCAR and reacted like anyone else would.”