Darrell Wallace Jr. became just the second African-American to win a NASCAR national series race, winning the Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.
Wallace, 20, a rookie driving a truck owned by Kyle Busch, passed Ty Dillon with 50 laps remaining and pulled away for the win.
The win was the first for a black driver since Wendell Scott went to Victory Lane Dec. 1, 1963 at Jacksonville, Fla. The Martinsville triumph was especially poignant for Wallace because Scott was a native of nearby Danville, Va., approximately 40 minutes from the track.
"This means everything," Wallace said. "This is an emotional win for me, especially to do this in Wendell Scott's backyard. I had to do some muscling there at the end to get around Ty and keep away from (Kevin) Harvick. This is awesome. This is good for not only for myself and my team, but for everyone involved. This is big."
A NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, Wallace is the fourth African-American to run a full schedule in one of NASCAR's top three series, joining Scott, Bill Lester and Willy T. Ribbs.
"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," NASCAR CEO Brian France said. "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."
Wallace has come close several times this season to scoring a breakthrough victory, but has struggled to harness his speed for the duration of a race.
He started on the pole and led a race-high 119 laps at Dover before fading to 10th, and led the most laps at Kentucky before crashing out and finishing 28th. Wallace was up front for 96 laps Saturday and never ran lower than sixth around the half-mile track.
"You've got to put it altogether and it takes a lot -- this is my rookie season," Wallace said. "You've got to wreck to learn, and I've learned my lesson and I'm going to use that to capitalize."
The victory comes a week after Busch, who fields multiple entries in the Nationwide and Truck Series, talked about the challenges of operating a NASCAR team and how a lack of funding may force him to "make some tough decisions" for next year.
Presently, Wallace's plans for 2014 are unknown, though Busch's hope is that this win will generate interest and additional sponsorship.
"It will take tomorrow before this finally hits me," Wallace said. "This is a big win and an emotional win for all of us. ... This is one of many I hope and hopefully we can get something settled for next year, and just keep trying to fight for Victory Lane and let everything else set in place."