Bubba Wallace, shown Feb. 14, 2019, is the first Black driver to earn a win at NASCAR's elite Cup Series level since Wendell Scott in 1963. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Bubba Wallace became just the second Black driver in NASCAR history to win a Cup Series race after his victory in Monday's playoff competition at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
Wallace drove through a wreck and to the front of the field five laps before the second and final rain stoppage of the race. NASCAR officials attempted to dry the track for nearly 45 minutes, but the race was eventually called off as sunset approached and more rain entered the region.
The 27-year-old Wallace was waiting at the top of his pit stand and celebrated with his crew after the race was called. He is in his first season competing for 23XI Racing, a team owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and current NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.
"This is for all the kids out there that want to have an opportunity and whatever they want to achieve, and be the best at what they want to do," said Wallace, who broke down in tears upon returning to his parked No. 23 Toyota. "You're going to go through a lot of [expletive]. But you always got to stick true to your path and not let the nonsense get to you.
"Stay strong. Stay humble. Stay hungry. Been plenty of times when I wanted to give up."
Wallace is the first Black driver to earn a win at NASCAR's elite Cup Series level since Wendell Scott in 1963. Scott wasn't declared the winner of that race for several months.
NASCAR presented Scott's family with the trophy from that race earlier this year.
Bill Lester, a Black driver who has competed sporadically in NASCAR from 1999 through one Xfinity Series start this season, congratulated Wallace on social media.
"Finally, it's official, you've done it! Congratulations @BubbaWallace. So proud of you and what you've accomplished," Lester wrote on Twitter. "Your win moves the @NASCAR needle forward on so many fronts. Glad I was a witness."
In June 2020 at Talladega, NASCAR found a noose in the garage stall that was assigned to Wallace. The discovery came a week after the organization had banned Confederate flags at its events after Wallace urged the move.
The FBI opened an investigation and learned that the noose was tied at the end of the garage door pull and had been there for months, meaning Wallace wasn't the target of a hate crime. The entire racing industry rallied around Wallace, though, and stood in solidarity with him before the race at Talladega.
Wallace's victory was his first in 142 career Cup starts. He had six wins in the Truck Series from 2013-15.
Brad Keselowski finished second in Monday's race, followed by Joey Logano in third. Kurt Busch was fourth.