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African American wins NASCAR

Darrell Wallace Jr. captures first national race in 50 years

CNN News Wire | 10/31/2013, midnight
David Wallace

It’s one win for Darrell Wallace Jr., but what will it mean for other African American race car drivers—present and future?

The answer to that question might not come for years. Nonetheless, NASCAR wasted no time Saturday hailing Wallace’s on-track success at Martinsville Speedway in southern Virginia.

“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,” said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France.

Wallace took the Kroger 200 on the racing circuit’s Camping World Truck Series, which is on NASCAR’s third tier. This level features racing of modified pick up trucks. The series was formed in 1995.

The win is notable given that no African American has won any NASCAR national series race since December 1, 1963, when Wendell Scott became the first ever to win a race at NASCAR’s top level, in a victory at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla.

Scott, a Virginia native who served in the Army during World War II, raced in more than 500 races during his career—finishing in the top five 20 times, although that 1963 win would be his only victory.

Plus, the 20-year-old Wallace isn’t just any driver. He’s a highly touted graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity. He was selected as part of the Drive for Diversity program in 2010, and got his start in stock car racing at the regional touring level. At his first career start at Greenville Pickens Speedway at age 16, Wallace became the youngest and first African American to win a race in NASCAR K&N series history and in track history. He went on to earn 2010 NASCAR K&N Series East Rookie of the Year honors.

In 2012, Darrell had another breakout year as he drove in four NASCAR Nationwide Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing and impressed all with three, top-10 finishes in his first three starts and a pole in his fourth start.

The Mobile, Ala., native—who lives in Concord, N.C., and developed an interest in racing at age 9 on the Go-Kart circuit—won in his 19th start on Camping World Truck circuit. In 10 of his first 18 starts, he finished in the top 10.

CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.

By Greg Botelho