In short order, Darrell Wallace Jr. has piled up accolades usually preceded by the word “youngest” or “fastest” or “first.” Now, with a win at Martinsville Speedway, Wallace adds another history-making accomplishment to the list – and continues a competitive landscape evolution.
With the victory, Wallace becomes the second African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race, joining trailblazer and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Wendell Scott.
“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 Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “Darrell’s success, following fellow NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Kyle Larson’s win earlier this season, is indicative of a youth and multicultural movement that bodes well for NASCAR’s future growth.”
The Concord, N.C., driver of the No. 54 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports is running for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors this season.
In 2010, Wallace won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year and was championship runner up. Last season at Dover, Wallace became the first African-American driver to win the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Co. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Wallace won the pole award for the NCWTS race at Dover in May this year, making series history as youngest winner of the award – a record now held by Chase Elliott.
In 2012, Wallace finished among the top 10 in three of his four NASCAR Nationwide Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing, with a best finish of seventh at Iowa Speedway.
Wallace, who competed under the NASCAR D4D banner from 2010-11, is the second graduate from the program to win a NASCAR national series race, following Larson’s April victory at Rockingham Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He is also the fourth NASCAR D4D driver to compete in a national series this season, with Ryan Gifford’s ninth-place finish in his NASCAR Nationwide debut at Iowa and Paulie Harraka’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Sonoma.
Wendell Scott, a two-time NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, won a premier series – now Sprint Cup – race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla. on Dec. 1, 1963. The Danville, Va. native competed in 495 races between 1961 and 1995, passing away in 1990 at the age of 69.
Since 2004, NASCAR Drive for Diversity has provided an opportunity for multicultural and female drivers to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with the goal of racing in NASCAR’s national series. Since 2010, five different drivers have totaled for 12 wins over 45 K&N East races and Larson won the series championship last season. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine for the 2014 class begins Monday, Oct. 21 and will run until Wednesday, Oct. 23.