Team owner and legendary driver Richard Petty said Monday that he was “enraged” by a noose being put in his team’s garage stall ahead of Sunday’s race at Talladega.
Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver racing full-time in NASCAR, drives Petty’s famed No. 43 in the Cup Series. Petty is set to be in attendance at Monday’s rain-delayed Talladega race in support of Wallace. Petty, 82, has not attended a NASCAR race since the series began racing again during the coronavirus pandemic in May.
“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.”
NASCAR, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama are investigating the placement of the noose. It was discovered by a team member before the race was set to begin at 3 p.m. ET. Thunderstorms pushed the race to Monday.
Petty is the winningest NASCAR driver in Cup Series history. He has 200 wins at NASCAR’s top level and is tied with Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson for the most titles with seven championships.
Petty owned and operated his own Petty Enterprises team during his driving career and has shifted to an ownership role after his retirement in 1992.
The statement from Petty on Monday was remarkable and commendable given past comments. He said in 2017 that anyone who didn’t stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States should be out of the country.
Wallace had started driving for Petty during that season. Wallace competed in four races for the team in 2017 as a substitute for Aric Almirola after Almirola suffered a back injury in a frightening wreck at Kansas.
Petty and his team then hired Wallace to run full time in 2018, and Wallace has driven for the team ever since. His best finish came during the 2018 Daytona 500 when he finished second to Austin Dillon.
Wallace drove a Black Lives Matter car on June 10 at Martinsville, the same day NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its track properties. The outright ban came five years after NASCAR simply asked fans to not fly the flag in the wake of a white supremacist’s mass shooting at a church in South Carolina.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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