Bubba Wallace made history as the first Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup race in almost 50 years, ESPN reported.
With his win at Talladega, Wallace became the first Black driver to win at the top level of the prominent stock car series since Wendell Scott in 1963. Interestingly, Scott wasn’t declared the winner until long after Buck Baker had already been awarded the trophy. NASCAR presented Scott’s family with his trophy from that race just two months ago.
Monday’s superspeedway event was red-flagged due to rain with around 70 laps remaining and Wallace, driver of the No. 23 Toyota, in the lead.
The race was considered official after reaching the halfway point and NASCAR called drivers to a stop when more rain fell on the track after an earlier weather delay. As lightning flashed all through the area, Nascar officials made the call to end the race early just before 4:30 p.m. ET
Wallace, joined by his fiance, Amanda Carter, and his mother, Desiree Wallace, walked to Victory Lane as fellow Cup drivers Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Larson congratulated him on the win. He was filled with emotion during his first interview as a Cup Series winner.
“Got some credibility to my name now,” said Wallace, a first-time Cup winner in his 143 starts. “I’m just like, ‘Finally, I’m a winner and I’m a winner in the Cup level,’ and it’s just like ‘Hell yeah!’ It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Because of the weather, Wallace was nervous that the race would be canceled and no one would be declared the winner.
“I was sitting in the bus after they called (the race yesterday) and I was close to texting (NASCAR president) Steve Phelps saying, ‘I don’t want a phone call,’ ” Wallace said. “Because it’s basically the same thing that happened. Rain delay, called the race, gotta race on Monday. And it’s just like, ‘Man, this is déjà vu.’ ”
Although Wallace wanted the focus to be on his first career win, it was not lost on him that his victory was in a predominantly white sport with a long track record of racism.
Back in June 2020 at Talladega, NASCAR found a noose in the garage stall that was assigned to Wallace. The discovery came a week after NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag at its events at Wallace’s urging.
An FBI investigation discovered that the noose was tied at the end of the garage door pull and had been there for months, meaning Wallace was not a victim of a hate crime.
Competing, under those circumstances, has taken a toll on Wallace.
“It’s definitely been tough going to some of the tracks this year, we get some of the most boos now,” he said. “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.”
Making the victory even more significant, Wallace was congratulated by Warrick Scott Sr., Wendell Scott’s grandson on Twitter.
“You can’t swim standing on the Bank!!” tweeted Warrick Scott Sr., who is Scott’s grandson. “RIP Wendell Scott. Congratulations @bubbawallace!!”
On another post, Scott Sr., showed his grandfather leaning against a car.
“PaPa was there the whole time chilling in the rain (Spiritually) if you know what I mean!!” he added.