The FBI has concluded that black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a racist act at Talladega Superspeedway, and that the garage door pull rope "fashioned like a noose" at the track had been there since last year.
Dozens of his peers showed their support for Wallace by pushing his number 43 car to the front of the field at the Alabama speedway in an act of solidarity with the 26-year-old on Monday.
A noose had allegedly been found in Wallace's team garage on Sunday, which followed a successful campaign by the driver to have the Confederate flag banned from NASCAR events in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But on Tuesday a NASCAR statement read: "The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.
"The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall.
"This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.
"We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing."
In a statement released soon after the rope was discovered, NASCAR originally said: "We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act.
"We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport."
Wallace later issued a statement of his own on social media, saying he was left "incredibly saddened" by the incident. He went on to finish Monday's race in 14th place.
The incident had rocked NASCAR, which returned to racing last month following the Covid-19 pandemic.