An ugly incident took place at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Sunday as NASCAR says a noose was found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, who is the sport's only black driver.
This incident comes less than two weeks after Wallace had pushed NASCAR to successfully ban the Confederate flag from all of its tracks and facilities in their circuit.
In a statement released from NASCAR on Sunday:
"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."
Wallace reportedly never saw the noose in his garage stall, but a member of his team saw it and immediately brought it to the attention of NASCAR officials.
Late Sunday night, Wallace released a statement about the incident via his Twitter account:
NBA star LeBron James called the noose "sickening" and showed his support for both Wallace and NASCAR.
A number of fans expressed their displeasure with NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate flag on Sunday. While no flags were allowed inside the track grounds, fans drove their vehicles along the boulevard outside the racetrack, displaying and waving the Confederate flag. In addition, a plane flew above the track that displayed the Confederate flag, along with a banner that said, "Defund NASCAR."
Wallace was born in Mobile, Alabama, which is more than four hours away from Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. He has been racing in the NASCAR Cup Series for the past four seasons, finishing with six top-10 finishes but no wins at NASCAR's top series.
In 2017, Wallace became the first black driver to race in the NASCAR Cup Series since Bill Lester in 2006.
The race on Sunday was postponed due to inclement weather and will be run on Monday at 3 p.m.