Black driver Darrell Wallace Jr. places 2nd in Daytona 500

Black driver Darrell Wallace Jr. places 2nd in Daytona 500
February 22
03:00 2018

By Chronicle Wire Reports

Darrell Wallace Jr.,  the first black driver to start the Daytona 500 since 1969,  finished second in his debut as the full-time driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet,  reported. He helped push the No. 3 Chevrolet of Austin Dillon to victory and then had an emotional breakdown in his post-race interview.

USA Today reported that members of Wallace’s immediate family and friends saw him for the first time post-race as he arrived in the media center to discuss his second-place finish. Emotions overflowed.

Wallace’s mother, Desiree, walked to the podium and gave him a long hug. “I’m so proud of you, baby,” she said, over and over again.

“You act like we just won the race,” Wallace said.

“We did,” she said.

They both cried.

Wallace’s sister, Brittany, also stepped forward for a hug, Bubba telling the crowd that she is responsible for his good looks.

“Pull it together, bud, pull it together,” Wallace said as he cried into a towel after sitting down to answer questions.

It wasn’t quite over when Wallace left Daytona International Speedway, though,  reported.

Hours later, after returning home to North Carolina, Wallace stopped by the old Dale Earnhardt Inc. shops and threw up the “3” sign for a photo.

His push helped Dillon land in Victory Lane on the 17-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death, and 20 years after “The Intimidator” won his lone Daytona 500.

Wallace Jr. was motioning the “3” to honor both Dale and Dillon (and likely team owner Richard Childress, too) while wearing a Richard Petty Motorsports T-shirt.

The Associated Press reported that a day earlier, Wallace continued to blaze a trail at Speedweeks.

Darrell Wallace Jr. turned heads again Saturday at Daytona International Speedway and topped the speed chart in the final practice for NASCAR’s season opener.

“A lot of stories, a lot of headlines being talked about,” Wallace said.

Wallace sparked plenty of his own.

He went 196.954 mph in the No. 43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsports, one more astounding moment in a week where he finished third in a Daytona 500 qualifying race and earned a seventh-place start on Sunday.

There’s only one box left to check on his list.

“To win something is good,” Wallace said.

He had 39 other drivers to beat to the checkered flag on Sunday, including the favorite, 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski.

The 24-year-old Wallace, more commonly referred to by his nickname of “Bubba,” became the first black driver to race at NASCAR’s top level since 2006 when he replaced an injured Aric Almirola earlier in 2017. He is taking over Richard Petty’s iconic ride this season.

Wallace won the Truck Series race at Martinsville in 2013 to become the first black driver to win at a national NASCAR series event since Wendell Scott in 1963. NASCAR says there have been at least seven black drivers in its series previous to Wallace, including Scott, who raced from 1961-73 in Cup, Willy T. Ribbs, who did three Cup races in 1986, and Bill Lester, who raced sporadically from 1999 until 2007 at all three national levels.

Mike Hembree, USA TODAY and Dan Gelston, AP Sports Writer reported from Daytona Beach, Florida.

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