When the FBI completed its investigation and confirmed that driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime, some social media users responded with outrage. Longtime veteran Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, expressed relief. He was "relieved to hear" that this wasn't a hate crime and remains proud of how the sport came together to support Wallace prior to Monday's race.
Following NASCAR's initial statement about a "noose" left in Wallace's garage at Talladega Superspeedway, the drivers expressed outrage about what they believed to be a hate crime. They didn't know that this noose was actually a garage pull rope and wanted to show Wallace that they view him as family. This led to every single member of the NASCAR garages coming together to push Wallace's car to the front of the grid prior to Monday's Geico 500. The drivers also encircled their peer during the national anthem.
My family. pic.twitter.com/031TvNDopA— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 23, 2020
Johnson is actually the one that led the charge to show support on Monday. Following Sunday's postponement of the Geico 500, he said he went to bed early. He woke up on Monday and read about the alleged "noose incident." Johnson said that his "blood was boiling," so he headed to the drivers' group chat.
"Early on [Monday] morning, I mentioned to the driver group that I was just going to go stand with Bubba at his car during the national anthem," Johnson said during a Zoom call. "If anybody wanted to meet me there, I was going to stand with him and be there. When that seed was planted, the group really started coming up with ideas. Everybody wanted to get involved.
"After the drivers had a short period of time conversing, I understood that team managers and crew chiefs caught wind, they wanted to be involved. Within a short period of time, there was a plan in place. Of course, NASCAR was behind whatever we wanted to do 100 percent in support of that."
This moment of essentially the entire industry coming together as a show of unity drew praise from many on social media. People that previously had not watched NASCAR tuned in to show support from their homes. A day later, the FBI and NASCAR released statements confirming that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime, sparking outrage from some social media users. Despite the outcry, Johnson is still proud of Monday's demonstration and how the industry supported one of its own.