Darrell Wallace Jr. becomes second African American to win in NASCAR

Darrell Wallace Jr. becomes second African American to win in NASCAR 2

It took nearly half a century, but an African American driver has reached Victory Lane in a national NASCAR series race for only the second time.

Darrell Wallace Jr. becomes second African American to win in NASCAR 2

Darrell Wallace Jr., 20, won the NASCAR truck race Saturday in Martinsville, Va., the only black driver to do so since the late Wendell Scott won a race in December 1963 in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I’m speechless right now,” Wallace told reporters at Martinsville Speedway. Wallace said Scott, a native of nearby Danville, Va., “was watching over me this race. It all goes to him.”

Wallace, a rookie in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, won the Kroger 200 in his No. 54 Toyota Tundra after leading a race-high 96 laps.

“We congratulate Darrell Wallace Jr. on his first national series victory, one that will be remembered as a remarkable moment in our sport’s history,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a statement.

NASCAR has been closely watching Wallace’s progress because no African American currently drives full time in NASCAR’s premier Cup series or its second-level Nationwide Series.

The truck series is NASCAR’s third-level national series and, even before his win, Wallace was considered the sport’s best African American hope to make it to the top.

NASCAR nearly a decade ago started its “Drive for Diversity” program to help develop minorities and women in racing, and Wallace — nicknamed Bubba — is one of the program’s graduates.

An Alabama native who grew up in the Charlotte, N.C., area where most NASCAR teams are based, Wallace is a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. He is driving trucks prepared by Cup star Kyle Busch‘s truck team.

“This is certainly a monumental day and hopefully one that he’ll remember for a long time and can cherish,” Busch said of Wallace.

Wallace was having a steady, competitive season when he arrived in Martinsville, with 10 top-10 finishes through 18 races.

After his victory and post-race interviews Saturday, Wallace went on Twitter with a simple message: “We came. We saw. We conquered.”

Source : Jim Peltz, Los Angeles.