Transcript: Steve Phelps -- Bubba Wallace incident at Talladega Superspeedway

     ERIC NYQUIST:  Thank you, and good evening, everyone.  Appreciate you making this time on short notice.  As you saw earlier this afternoon, the FBI released a statement as it's concluded its federal investigation into the matter.  NASCAR also released its statement along with that.

            In addition, while we are still working through our own investigation and while the federal investigation may be finished, we thought it was important that we had Steve Phelps add some additional comments.  He wanted to speak to the media here on this.  We will not be taking questions after his initial comments.  As I said, we're finishing our part of our investigation, and at a later date, Steve will be made available to answer any follow‑up questions that you might have.

            Again, we appreciate your time on this, and I'm going to hand it over to Steve, who's going to address some comments and additional information on this.

 

            STEVE PHELPS:  Thank you, Eric.  Thank you, everyone, for participating in the conference.  I know we're a few minutes late.  We had a couple of technical difficulties.  First of all, I'd like to thank the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI for their obviously very swift and thorough work.  As their statement has said, they've concluded their investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.

            For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for.  It was disturbing to hear that it was thought that one of our own had committed this heinous act.  It is fantastic to hear from the FBI definitively that there was not a hate crime.

            I do want to make sure everyone understands that if given the evidence that we had was delivered to us on Saturday night or late Saturday afternoon, we would do the same thing.  We would have done the same investigation.  It was important for us to do.  There is no place in our sport for this type of racism or hatred.  It's not part of who we are as a sport.

            I want to make sure that everyone understands that our portion of this with the FBI was something that was ‑‑ we were very cooperative, as you would expect.  We provided them with roster information, photographic and video evidence that aided them in their conclusions.

            Additionally, the industry was very supportive.  Not just the members of the 43, and I want to be clear about the 43 team.  The 43 team had nothing to do with this.  The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously.  The last race we had had there in October, that noose was present, and it was ‑‑ the fact that it was not found until a member of the 43 team came there is something that is a fact.  We had not been back to the garage.  It was a quick one‑day show.  The crew member went back in there.  He looked and saw the noose, brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR series director Jay Fabian, and we launched this investigation.

            To be clear, we would do this again.  Of the evidence that we had, it was clear that we needed to look into this.

            So again, I want to thank the FBI for that.

            I also want to talk about yesterday.  Yesterday to me as a sport was one of the most important days we've had.  It's one of the most kind of indelible print on my mind until the day I die, seeing the support that Bubba had from not just the drivers but all the crews, all the officials who were down in pit road, anyone who was part of that footprint.  Everyone wanted to show their support for a family member of NASCAR.  We are one big family.  We are one large community.  And everyone's belief is that someone was attacking a member of our family.

            It turned out that that was not the case, but at the time that's what our industry thought, so drivers, crew, our officials, everyone supported Bubba Wallace and the 43 team, and that was a very powerful image in not just the history of our sport but I think in all sports.

            With that, as Eric said, we are continuing our portion of the investigation to try to determine why there was a rope fashioned into a noose, which obviously happened sometime last October or before, and we'll do that.  And when we have further information, we will get back to the media, and at that time I'll be happy to answer any questions.

            I appreciate everyone's time.  As I said, this is a great conclusion for us and for Bubba, to understand that he was not targeted.

            Just one correction to make.  Obviously I had said Saturday night, it was actually Sunday night.  When you race on Monday and you usually race on Sundays, I had my days mixed up.  So to be clear, this came to our attention on Sunday night, not on Saturday night.

            With that, I'll turn it back over to Eric.

 

            ERIC NYQUIST:  Thank you, Steve.  Appreciate it.  We appreciate everyone making the time to tune in here for this and to get some additional thoughts from Steve.  As I stated earlier, while the federal investigation is finished, as Steve noted, we're going to continue our process and our due diligence on this to understand how and why a noose was present in the garage at any point, and we look forward to following back up with that.  We'll provide an availability to answer additional questions at that time.  Again, I appreciate everyone's time, and that's all we have for this evening.  Thank you.

NASCAR PR

Speedway Digest Staff

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