In a video tweeted by NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell, Wallace’s car follows and is pushed down a pit by a large procession of people. Wallace, who wore a mask with the American flag, was emotional as he hugged drivers and fans, including NASCAR legend Richard Petty.
Ryan Blaney eventually won the NASCAR Geico 500 race in an exciting photo finale on Monday. Wallace finished in 14th place. After the race, a smiling Wallace went to greet a group of fans, some of whom were wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
“This is probably the worst moment right here,” he told FOX Sports. “This sport is changing. The deal that happened yesterday … I wanted to show who’s who so you won’t take my smile away. I’ll keep going.
“All in all, we won today. The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life … This is really amazing, and I’m proud to be a part of this sport,” Wallace said.
NASCAR said it was investigating the noose, and federal investigators said they would review the incident as well.
“We are angry and resentful and cannot say firmly enough how seriously we take this horrific act,” NASCAR said in a statement. “We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify those responsible and eliminate them from the sport.”
The racing organization said there was no room for racism in NASCAR and that the incident “only strengthens our determination to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”
In addition, the U.S. Attorney for Northern Alabama, the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Department of Civil Rights are investigating the incident, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said in a statement.
“Whether or not federal charges can be filed, this kind of action has no place in our society,” Town said.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said a crew member discovered the noose and then notified NASCAR, and a small group of senior leaders gathered to make a plan. Phelps said he was the one who informed Wallace of his discovery.
A source with Richard Petty Motorsports told CNN that Wallace had never seen the jet.
“This is not going to break me, I’m not going to give up or give up. I’m going to continue to proudly represent what I believe in,” Wallace said.
NASCAR told CNN that the area of the garage where the noose was found was limited to basic staff, which included racing teams, NASCAR officials, protection and health and protection personnel.
On Monday, the race will allow NASCAR fans to return to the track for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, a plane with a Confederate flag and the phrase “Defund NASCAR” was seen above the runway, and Confederate memorabilia were sold across the street.
Kevin Dotson, David Close and Amir Vera contributed to this report.