Oct 26, 2013, 8:22 PM EDT
After earning a historic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win today at Martinsville Speedway, Darrell Wallace Jr. expressed hopes that his victory can help fuel bigger African-American involvement in a sport where the roster of drivers has been predominantly white.
“Hopefully, it makes it easier,” he said. “I mean, this sport isn’t easy at all for sure – it’s taken us 18 races, I believe, to finally get here. Hopefully it’ll just make them want to jump in it now…You’ve got to be willing to do it and stick out through the thick and the thin.
“In this sport it’s more thick than anything. But you’ve just got to keep chugging along, man. This is one of many, I hope.”
By winning today’s Kroger 200, Wallace joins Wendell Scott as the only black drivers to win a NASCAR national series race. Scott became the first after winning a Grand National (now Sprint Cup) race in 1963.
The late Scott, who was honored earlier this year by the Commonwealth of Virginia, was a native of Danville, Virginia, which sits about 30 minutes from Martinsville’s .526-mile oval. That fact was not lost on Wallace, who said he was thrilled to win “in Wendell Scott’s backyard.”
Wallace’s triumph is also a milestone for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which was created in 2004 to help minority and female drivers compete in the sanctioning body’s minor leagues with the goal of ascending to its national levels: Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks.
With his victory today, Wallace joins Kyle Larson as Drive for Diversity graduates who have gone on to win a NASCAR national series event; Larson, a Japanese-American, took his first such win in the Trucks this past April at Rockingham, North Carolina.
“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/CEO Brian France said in a statement.
“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.”