Bubba Wallace becomes first Black driver to win NASCAR race since 1963

Wallace won Monday's YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when the race was stopped after 117 of a scheduled 188 laps due to wet track and advancing darkness on a track without lights.

Bubba Wallace stands with the trophy after winning NASCAR Cup series auto race YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday.   -  AP

Bubba Wallace got his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series victory when he cashed in on a rainstorm that ended Monday's YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway after 117 of a scheduled 188 laps.

Wallace took the lead on Lap 113. A crash brought out a caution three laps later. During the caution hard rain began to fall and the cars were brought to pit road as the red flag waved.

So Wallace waited.

At about 3:30 p.m. CT, officials declared the race official because of the wet track and advancing darkness on a track without lights as Wallace became the first African American to win a race in NASCAR's premier series since Wendell Scott did it in 1963.

 

"I never think about those things," Wallace said when asked about his historic achievement.

"But when you say it like that, it obviously brings a lot of emotion, a lot of joy to my family, fans, friends. It's pretty damn cool. Just proud to be a winner in the Cup Series."

"Part of me is sitting there waiting," he said. "It's not over with. If we go back to racing, that's fine. But we had so many cool fans behind us in the pitbox just cheering for us so it kind of amped up the intensity a little bit, but man so proud of everybody at 23XI (Racing).

"New team, getting a win late in the season reminds me kind of of 2013, waited so long to get that first Truck (Series) win."

He won in a car owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and current Cup driver Denny Hamlin.

"I know a lot of history was made today, I believe, which is really cool," Wallace said, "but it's about my guys, it's about our team, it's about what we've done. I appreciate Michael Jordan and I appreciated Denny for believing in me and giving me an opportunity. Like we talked, it's pretty fitting that it comes here at Talladega.

"This is for all those kids out there that want to have an opportunity in whatever they want to achieve and be the best at what they want to do. You're going to go through a lot of (B.S.) but you always got to stick true to your path and not let the nonsense get to you and stay strong, stay humble, stay hungry," Wallace continued, fighting back tears. "Plenty of times I wanted to give up. You surround yourself with the right people and it's moments like this that you appreciate.

The race was originally scheduled to be run on Sunday afternoon. But intermittent showers plagued the track all morning. At about 2:45 p.m. CT, the cars took to the track for warmup laps. But with one warmup to go, heavy rain struck the front stretch.

Wallace was thrust into the spotlight last year when his calls for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag -- which many Americans see as a symbol of oppression -- at all events were ultimately adopted.

The driver was later thought to have been a victim of a racial attack when a noose, a symbol connected to lynching and America's slave history, was found in his garage at the same circuit.

The noose, according to NASCAR, was actually a garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose and the US Justice Department said after an FBI investigation that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.

Although the racing world rallied behind him during the incident, Wallace would later come under fire from then US President Donald Trump over the incident.

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