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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Who hung a noose in Black driver’s garage? NASCAR investigates | LeBron James: ‘Sickening’

Two weeks after driver Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only Black driver, lobbied the stock car racing association to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities, a noose was found hanging in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, …
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Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace, who successfully pushed NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from its races, was the target of a carist act, race officials said. (AP Photo | Wilfredo Lee)AP

Two weeks after driver Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver, lobbied the stock car racing association to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities, a noose was found hanging in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, on Sunday, and officials vowed to ban whoever is responsible.

“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. “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.”

Wallace, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty’s team, said in a statement that he was “incredibly saddened” by the act. ESPN reported that he did not see the noose.

“Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism,” Wallace posted on Twitter. “Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry, including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone.

“Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, “they are just trying to scare you.” This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”

Despite NASCAR’s ban of the Confederate flag on track properties, the flags were flown on nearby lots on Sunday. Photos showed cars waving and flying Confederate flags on roads around the speedway, and a plane flew above the track pulling a banner of the Confederate flag that said, “Defund NASCAR.”

Lakers star LeBron James called the noose “sickening”:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reacted on social media: “Hope Bubba wins it tomorrow.”

Sunday’s race was rescheduled to 3 p.m. ET Monday because of inclement weather. Because of the coronavirus, NASCAR will allow only 5,000 fans to watch.

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Kevin Manahan can be reached at kmanahan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinCManahan. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.

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