Bubba Wallace becomes first African American NASCAR Cup Series Winner since 1963

Bubba Wallace becomes first African American NASCAR Cup Series Winner since 1963

by October 4, 2021 0 comments

Just over a year ago, the formation of 23XI Racing was unveiled for the world. Co-owned by Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin, and former Minor League Baseball player Michael Jordan. Bubba Wallace, after a number of years at Richard Petty Motorsports, would be the driver of the new team’s No. 23 Toyota Camry. His career with Petty was largely lackluster save for some sporadic good results. However, there was optimism with 23XI, due to their partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. While Wallace missed the playoffs, is currently on pace for a career-best average finish, hovering just above 19th.

Additionally, he is on one of his better stretches of the season currently, save for some bad results at Darlington and Richmond. With steady improvement all season, Talledega was on the horizon. Wallace, being a historically good plate racer in the top three series, had a shot to make some noise. With a threat of race-ending rain late in the second stage, Wallace made a number of big moves to get to the front. That included a perfectly timed block on Brad Keselowski. In addition to getting some help from future teammate Kurt Busch as well, Wallace made it up to the front before a caution. Then the waiting game began as the rain fell in buckets.

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Making Moves

Before he even took the lead, Wallace somehow avoided this wreck caused by the No. 9 car of Chase Elliott.

His future teammate Busch said, “inches only count when you’re playing horseshoes and hand grenades.” He maybe forgot to say wreck avoidance as well. Surely some level of luck was involved here, but he did an excellent job keeping the car clean in a hectic spot. With the threat of rain fast approaching on the next stint, Wallace hooked up with his future teammate to get to the point on the inside line. He then made one of the more gutsy elevator blocks in recent memory on Keselowski, going from the bottom to top. And then a lap later, another crash would bring out a caution.

With a cell of rain just over the track as the caution hit, the field went down pit road. Then the waiting game began under the red flag.

History-Making

Wallace after a TV interview and some talk with other drivers would be sitting on his team’s pit box patiently waiting. NASCAR would attempt to dry the track with the air dryers, but those efforts would be in vain. Just shy of 4:30 in Talledega, Alabama, Wallace had become just the second NASCAR Cup Series winner ever, and the first since 1963. That win came from the late Wendell Scott in the Jacksonville 200. A win that had to be overturned due to an error with manual scoring that had him four laps down. In fact, Scott, who died in 1990 never received the trophy for the win, and it only was received by his family earlier this year.

A monumental day for Wallace, who has raced, and won in a truck sporting Scott’s baby blue paint scheme. Wallace has often been heavily scrutinized for his on-track results, and from, to put it bluntly, ignorant people. Wallace’s best friend Ryan Blaney elaborated on that postrace with Bob Pockrass.

Blaney, along with others including Kyle Larson, were quick to congratulate Wallace on his first win. While another win is unlikely to be in the cards with the push for the championship nearing its end, Wallace now looks to build off this. A performance that he will cherish for years to come.


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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