Bubba Wallace stepped with force onto the pages of NASCAR history Monday.
Winning the YellaWood 500 Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, Wallace became the first African-American driver to score a victory in stock car racing’s top division since Wendell Scott won a nondescript 100-mile race in Jacksonville, Fla. Dec. 1, 1963.
“I never think about those things,” Wallace said on NBCSN after being declared the winner. “Whey you say it like that, it brings a lot of emotion, a lot of joy to my family, fans, friends. It’s pretty damn cool.
“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 whatever they want to do. You’re going to go through a lot of bullshit, but you’ve always got to stick true to your to your path and not let the nonsense get to you.”
Wallace, four days short of his 28th birthday, held a narrow lead with 117 laps remaining when rain forced NASCAR to end the race early. The race passed the halfway point at lap 94, making it official if predicted rain arrived later.
Wallace drives for the 23XI Racing Toyota team owned by fellow driver Denny Hamlin and former basketball superstar Michael Jordan.
Wallace’s previous best finishes were a pair of seconds at Daytona International Speedway. He has been racing full-time in the Cup series since 2018.
Saturday’s Truck-Xfinity doubleheader at the track produced an oddity – a pair of first-time NASCAR winners on the same day.
Brandon Brown, driving for his family-owned team, won the Xfinity race under caution when approaching darkness forced officials to call the race six laps short of the scheduled finish. Brown had a slight edge over second-place Brandon Jones at the last scoring loop under caution, handing the 28-year-old the Sparks 300 trophy.
Tate Fogleman, 21, won the Chevrolet Silverado 250 Truck race as his Chevy slid across the finish line sideways in front of second-place Tyler Hill. Fogleman, who finished a superspeedway race for the first time, turned previous leader John Hunter Nemechek to take over the lead.
Both Saturday races were marred by huge wrecks, multi-car manglers that are typical at NASCAR’s biggest track. There were no injuries.
In the Xfinity race, Austin Cindric finished eighth and clinched a spot in the playoffs’ Round of 8. Four of the 12 playoff drivers will be eliminated from the championship field in Saturday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
Nemechek, who leads the Truck point standings by one over Ben Rhodes, was the only Truck playoff driver to finish in the top 10 Saturday. With multi-car wrecks slowing the pace, half of the 40-truck field didn’t finish.
The next Truck race – the Round of 8 elimination event — is scheduled Oct. 30 at Martinsville Speedway. Martinsville results will decide the four drivers who will compete for the championship Nov. 5 at Phoenix.
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