Black excellence has invaded NASCAR racing.
Darrell ” Bubba” Wallace Jr carved a slice of NASCAR history Sunday night in only his fifth career start when he posted the best finish by a black driver in the Daytona 500.
Wallace was the first black driver to start the Daytona 500 since Wendell Scott in 1969. Scott was 13th in the 1966 race, the previous best finish for a black driver at Daytona.
There is only 1 driver from an African American background at the top level of our sport..I am the 1. You're not gonna stop hearing about "the black driver" for years. Embrace it, accept it and enjoy the journey..
— Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) November 8, 2017
Here's @BubbaWallace embracing his mother after a second place finish in the #Daytona500.. I can't say I wouldn't have done the exact same thing in that situation. Also can't say I'm not emotional right now.
— Matthew Mayer (@MatthewMayerCBS) February 19, 2018
While Austin Dillon was the winner, driving the No. 3 car on the 17th anniversary of the death of legendary Dale Earnhardt and the 20th anniversary of Dale’s only Daytona 500 victory, Wallace was clearly the star of the show.
Wallace, the son of a white father and black mother, was feted by sports royalty on his big day, and not just from his team owner, Richard Petty. Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron wished him luck on a phone call and four-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton tweeted his support.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s riding on this weekend. I know it. I pay attention to it,” Wallace said. “I follow a lot of people on social media, and it’s being put out there. But I’m doing my best at managing it, keeping it behind me, and that’s the best thing I can do.”