Wallace only second Black driver to win NASCAR Cup race

Miami (AFP) –


Bubba Wallace became only the second Black driver to win a race in NASCAR's Cup series championship after speeding to victory in the rain-shortened YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Wallace, who last year led successful calls for displays of the Confederate flag to be barred at NASCAR events following the murder of George Floyd, led for five of the 117 laps in the race in Alabama.

When a second downpour forced a further suspension in racing, the race was stopped with 71 laps still to run, handing victory to Wallace and his 23XI Racing team, which is owned by NBA great Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.

Wallace is the first Black driver to win in NASCAR's Cup series since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott sped to victory in a race in Jacksonville, Florida on December 1, 1963.

The 27-year-old Wallace joined 23XI last year after leaving Richard Petty Motorsports.

Wallace regularly spoke out against racism following George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis, and in June last year called on NASCAR chiefs to ban the Confederate flag from racetracks used on the circuit.

The flag has long been a staple at NASCAR tracks in the sport's southern US heartlands, but it remains a symbol of slavery and racism for many. NASCAR later banned displays of the flag at its races.

Wallace was involved in controversy in June last year after his team reported that a noose had been found hanging in the team garage at Talladega Superspeedway.

A subsequent investigation by the FBI determined Wallace had not been the victim of a hate crime and that the noose was a pull-down rope on a garage door that had been there since 2019.