Darrell Wallace Jr. made NASCAR history with his win Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.
(Photo: Jerry Markland, Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first African-American driver to win in one of NASCAR's national series in nearly 50 years, capturing the Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.
Wallace seized the lead from Ty Dillon shortly after a restart and held on for the win in the Kroger 200.
The victory was the first by a black driver since Wendell Scott's Dec. 1, 1963 win at Jacksonville, Fla.
"Oh my God, I'm speechless," an emotional Wallace said in victory lane after high-fiving his entire pit crew. "God, I couldn't even hold it together coming off (turn) 4 with the checkered. I still can't.
"I had so much confidence coming into this race, and I told my guys that I did, and I told everybody that asked if I was going to win I said, 'Hell yeah' every time. So, it was, 'No, maybe we're going to try,' this one was, 'For sure,' and we capitalized. This means a lot.
"It's indescribable. I'm bawling my eyes out."
Wallace, who turned 20 on Oct. 8, is in his rookie season driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports on the truck circuit and is the fourth African-American to drive full time in one of NASCAR's top three national series, joining Scott, Willy T. Ribbs and Bill Lester.
"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 release. "Darrell's success, following fellow NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Kyle Larson's win earlier this season, is indicative of a youth and multicultural movement that bodes well for NASCAR's future growth."
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The Mobile, Ala., native has welcomed shouldering the magnitude of trying to blaze a trail in a sport whose competitors have been predominantly white.
"That's cool," Wallace told USA TODAY Sports in February. "I'm going to do the best I can to take that number from (four) to 30 in 10 years or so.
"(Young African-Americans) want to see who they can be like," Wallace said. "They look at NASCAR, (and) is there anybody there? No. Now it's my job to perform well on track and off track for kids of color ... and for people to say, 'There's someone we can look up to now.' "