Federal authorities on Monday confirmed they are investigating the discovery of a noose found in the Talladega Superspeedway garage stall of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver who successfully pushed the stock car series to ban the Confederate flag at its venues less than two weeks ago.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JUNE 07: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 McDonald’s Chevrolet, wears a “I Can’t Breath – Black Lives Matter” T-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis, Minnesota police stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 07, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney Jay Town said his office, the FBI, and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were involved.

“Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” Town said.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the noose was found Sunday afternoon by a crew member he did not identify and security was notified. He said security had been stepped up and the FBI was “currently on-site” at the track, just two hours before Monday’s postponed race.

“This is a very, very serious act and we take it as such,” Phelps said. “We will rid this type of behavior in our sport.”

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: NASCAR President Steve Phelps walks the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. NASCAR resumes the season after the nationwide lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The stock car series, founded in the South more than 70 years ago, has tried to distance itself from the flag for years at the risk of alienating a core group of its fan base. At Wallace’s urging, it went ahead with the ban as the nation grapples with social unrest largely tied to George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.

NASCAR has not outlined how it will enforce the restriction and this week’s race at Talladega, in the heart of the South, presented the series with its biggest test in the early going. Disgruntled fans with Confederate flags drove past the main entrance to the Alabama race track prior to Sunday’s race, while a plane flew above the track pulling a banner of the flag that read “Defund NASCAR.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she was “shocked and appalled” by the “vile act” against Wallace, an Alabama native.

“There is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state,” Ivey said. “Bubba Wallace is one of us; he is a native of Mobile and on behalf of all Alabamians, I apologize to Bubba Wallace as well as to his family and friends for the hurt this has caused and regret the mark this leaves on our state.”

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – JUNE 10: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, wears a “I Can’t Breathe – Black Lives Matter” t-shirt under his firesuit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25, stands next to his car painted with “Compassion, Love, Understanding” prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Richard Petty, the seven-time NASCAR champion and owner of Wallace’s famed No. 43, was at Talladega to support his driver. Petty, who turns 83 next month, has not attended a race during the pandemic and said in a statement he was “enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team.”

“There’s absolutely no place in our sport or society for racism,” wrote the Hall of Famer known simply as “The King.” “This filthy act serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to eradicate racial prejudice and it galvanizes my resolve to use the resources of Richard Petty Motorsports to create change.”

Reaction from Wallace’s fellow drivers was immediate as they prepared for the rescheduled race. Retired four-time champion Jeff Gordon called it a “cowardly” act and Ryan Blaney, one of Wallace’s closest friends, tweeted: “You’re my brother and always will be. Don’t let the people who are lower than life to try and bring you down.”

“God help us,” NASCAR driver Michael McDowell tweeted. “The level of evil it takes to do something like this is disgusting. This is enraging and heartbreaking all at the same time.”

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: NASCAR President Steve Phelps walks the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. NASCAR resumes the season after the nationwide lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Phelps said he was the one who told Wallace about the noose.

“It was a difficult moment for Bubba, a difficult moment for me,” he said. “But he handled it with grace.”

The 26-year-old Wallace has not commented since a statement on social media late Sunday in which he said the “the 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.”

“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you,'” he wrote. ” 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.”

Wallace has worn a shirt that says “I Can’t Breathe” over his firesuit and sported a Black Lives Matter paint scheme in a race last month in Martinsville, Virginia. Wallace has said NASCAR assigned him two sheriff’s deputies for security at Martinsville after he called for the ban.

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – JUNE 10: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, wears a “I Can’t Breathe – Black Lives Matter” t-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25 , stands next to his car painted with “#Black Lives Matter” prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Five years ago, former NASCAR chairman Brian France tried to ban flying the flags at tracks, a proposal that was not enforced and largely ignored.

This year was different and it was Wallace who led the charge. Wallace, whose father is white, has said he began to find his public voice on racism after watching the video in May of Ahmaud Arbery’s fatal shooting in Georgia. He said he now recognizes he must not let his platform as a prominent driver go to waste.

Talladega is one of the more raucous stops on the NASCAR schedule, but the pandemic prompted the series, like all sports, to ban or sharply limit fans. With only 5,000 fans allowed in, the scene this week was a dramatic departure from the Talladega norm with plenty of room for social distancing and fans asked to wear masks.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – JUNE 22: Cars race during the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Fans were not granted access to the infield or the restricted area of the Cup Series garage. Under strict new health guidelines, a very limited number of people can access the garage where the cars are kept. That would include crew members for each of the 40 teams, NASCAR employees, Talladega staff members, and any contracted safety crews or security guards.

Drivers are not even permitted to enter the garage, instead going directly from their motorhomes to the race cars to drive. They were never called to the cars Sunday because of rain.

Phelps declined to discuss whether cameras in the garage area might have captured anything of value but noted NASCAR has an approved list of who is allowed access that has been turned over to authorities.

“It will be part of what the FBI is looking at,” he said

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