NASCAR officials announced on Sunday that an unidentified person left a noose in driver Bubba Wallace's garage. Following the act against Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR, team owner Richard Petty released a statement. He showed unwavering support for his driver and said that he will be attending the Geico 500 on Monday.
"I'm enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team," Petty said in a statement. "There is absolutely no place in our sport or our society for racism. 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. The sick person who perpetrated this act must be found, exposed and swiftly and immediately expelled from NASCAR.
"I believe in my heart this despicable act is not representative of the competitors I see each day in the NASCAR garage area. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day forward." Wallace originally started with Richard Petty Motorsports on a part-time basis during 2017 but became the official team driver ahead of the 2018 season.
In addition to condemning the act of racism and supporting Wallace, the 82-year-old Petty also turned heads with a major decision. Sources told ESPN's Marty Smith that the team owner will attend Monday's rescheduled Geico 500, his first race since the COVID-19 pandemic. The sources said that Petty believes the "most important thing for me right now is hugging my driver."
Petty made the decision to travel to Alabama once the noose was found in Wallace's garage. The race did not take place on Sunday due to lightning and rain, providing the team owner with the opportunity to make the journey. He will now show support for Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway prior to the 3 p.m. ET start time
Additionally, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement and said she is "shocked and appalled" by this "vile act." She said that there is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in the state, especially against an Alabama native in Wallace. She apologized to Wallace, as well as his friends and family, for the hurt that this act caused.
Wallace previously pushed for NASCAR officials to ban the Confederate flag from all events in an effort to make the sport more inclusive for current and future fans. Racing's governing body agreed to make this policy change, drawing a mixture of praise and criticism. One unidentified group reacted by using an airplane to fly a Confederate flag above Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, along with the message: "Defund NASCAR."