June 22 (UPI) -- Fellow NASCAR drivers showed their support for Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday by standing beside Wallace during the national anthem and then pushing his car to the front of the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal authorities have launched an investigation after a noose was found in Wallace's garage No. 43 Sunday at the racetrack in Lincoln, Ala.
"No words," tweeted Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's executive vice president, which accompanied a video of dozens of drivers pushing Wallace's car up the track.
Wallace, 26, is the only black driver in the Cup Series. He has been one of the most-prominent voices in the sport in response to the death of George Floyd. He has also worn Black Lives Matter shirts and had a Black Lives Matter paint scheme on his No. 43 Chevrolet.
Team owner Richard Petty, 82, Wallace's sponsor, also supported Wallace in the pit.
"I'm enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team. There is absolutely no place in our sport or our society for racism," Petty said in a statement Monday, calling the threat a "filthy act" and despicable.
"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," Petty said.
NASCAR -- which also launched an investigation -- said the noose was found in the garage stall Sunday afternoon before the Geico 500 was postponed due to a rain delay.
"The U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Alabama, FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are reviewing the situation surrounding the noose that was found in Bubba Wallace's garage to determine whether there are violations of federal law," U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said Monday in a statement.
"Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society."
"[Sunday's] 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," Wallace wrote on Twitter.
"Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry, including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone.
"Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, "they are just trying to scare you." 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."
Sources told ESPN a member of Wallace's racing team found the noose and informed NASCAR. NASCAR told Fox Sports it will work with law enforcement in its investigation. NASCAR President Steve Phelps said Monday that whoever placed the noose in the garage would receive a lifetime ban from NASCAR events, if they are found.
"We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," NASCAR said in a statement. "We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.
"As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."
NASCAR banned the Confederate flag before the June 14 Dixie Vodka 400 in Homestead, Fla. No fans were allowed to attend that race due to coronavirus pandemic safety precautions, but 1,000 military members were in attendance. Up to 5,000 fans were allowed into Talladega Sunday before the race was pushed to Monday.
Only NASCAR crew members, NASCAR officials, safety workers and essential personnel were permitted to have access to the garage areas.
A small protest took place outside of the entrance to the track, with vehicles flying the flag as they drove by the entrance. A plane flew over the track while it pulled a banner, which included a Confederate flag and the words "Defund NASCAR."
NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell acknowledged the plane's pilot on Twitter. He also posted a photo of black and white hands shaking.
"You won't see a photo of a [expletive] flying a flag over the track here, but you will see this. Hope everyone enjoys the race."
Wallace told CNN on June 8 about his push for the sport to ban the Confederate flag. NASCAR banned the flag two days later.
Many athletes and fellow NASCAR drivers voiced support for Wallace Sunday and Monday.
"Sickening! Bubba Wallace, my brother," LeBron James tweeted. "Know you don't stand alone! I'm right here with you as well as every other athlete."
The Geico 500 will start at 3 p.m. EDT Monday at Talladega.