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Wallace expresses relief rope wasn’t a threat against him

Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney

Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney before Monday's GEICO 500.

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace released a statement on social media this afternoon, saying he is relieved that the rope found in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway wasn't a threat aimed at him.

A rope used to pull a garage door apparently was believed to be a noose and was initially thought to be a threat against Wallace, the Sprint Cup Series' only Black full-time driver.

It was discovered by one of Wallace's crew members, who reported it to crew chief Jerry Baxter, who in turn reported it to NASCAR security. That touched off an investigation by federal authorities that concluded the rope had been there in that stall since October. The stall wasn't assigned to Wallace’s team until last week.

"It's been an emotional few days," Wallace posted on Twitter. "First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn't what we feared it was. I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat. I think we'll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been.

"Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we've made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all."

Before Monday's GEICO 500, fellow drivers and crew members guided Wallace's No. 43 car to the front of pit row and stood with him during the national anthem.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday night, hours after NASCAR released a statement saying the FBI determined Wallace "was not the target of a hate crime," Wallace said what was hanging in his garage stall was a noose.

"It wasn't directed at me, but somebody tied a noose," he said.

Wallace added that it wasn't a garage pull.

"I've been racing all my life," Wallace said. "We've raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. People that want to call it a garage pull and put out videos and photos of knots as their evidence, go ahead. But from the evidence that we have, that I have it's a straight-up noose.

"The FBI has stated it was a noose over and over again. NASCAR leadership has stated it was a noose. I can confirm that. I actually got evidence of what was hanging in my garage over my car around my pit crew guys to confirm that it was a noose."

Wallace said he asked Baxter if it was just a regular knot.

"He was like, 'Bubba, this isn't something that can be done within a second of just tying a knot and being on the way. This is something that took time,'" Wallace said.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.