Sports | October 5, 2021 12:16 pm

Bubba Wallace’s Talladega Victory Makes Him the Second Black Driver to Win a NASCAR Cup Series Race

The 27-year-old is the first Black driver to win at NASCAR's top level since Wendell Scott in 1963

Bubba Wallace in red and yellow McDonald's branded livery celebrates after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Bubba Wallace celebrates after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega.
Chris Graythen/Getty

By winning for the first time on the NASCAR Cup Series in 143 starts on Monday, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace became the first Black driver to win at the top level of the elite stock car series since Wendell Scott in 1963.

Wallace took the lead in the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama five laps before the rain-shortened race, which had already been rescheduled, was called off with 104 of 188 laps complete.

“This is for all the kids out there that want to have an opportunity and whatever they want to achieve, and be the best at what they want to do,” Wallace said as he choked back tears. “You’re going to go through a lot of [BS]. You always got to stick true to your path and not let the nonsense get to you and stay strong, stay humble, stay hungry. There’s been plenty of times when I wanted to give up. But you surround yourself with the right people, and it’s moments like this you appreciate.”

Wallace’s victory came at the same track where a noose, which the FBI concluded had been there for a long time, was found hanging in the garage of the only Black NASCAR driver in June of 2020 just a week after NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag at its events. For obvious reasons, Wallace was a vocal proponent of the ban.

“It’s definitely been tough going to some of the tracks this year, we get some of the most boos now,” Wallace said after the win. “Everybody says as long as they’re making noise that’s fine, but you know, I get booed for different reasons and that’s the tough thing to swallow. I appreciate all those who were there doing the rain dance with us, pulling for us, supporting me my whole career, but especially those who have supported me with everything that’s gone on the last 15-16 months.”

One of Wallace’s supporters is his Australian shepherd-poodle mix Asher, who joined him on the podium for his victory photographs.

Wallace is in his first season racing for 23X1 Racing, the team owned by NASCAR legend Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.

“I’m so happy for Bubba and our entire 23XI Racing team,” Jordan said. “This is a huge milestone and a historic win for us. From the day we signed him, I knew Bubba had the talent to win, and Denny and I could not be more proud of him. Let’s go!”

Hamlin also voiced his support for Wallace as the leader, who was attacked by some on social media after the race was stopped with him in the lead.

“They just are haters. That’s all you can really say about it,” Hamlin said. “I try to say to him, ‘Don’t get your motivation trying to prove haters wrong. Instead get your motivation from trying to do the people that support you proud.’ That’s where the motivation is going to come from, the people that are going to support you through the good times and the bad times.”

Let the good times roll for Wallace.