Bubba Wallace, who drives the number 23 Toyota Camry for Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s racing team, won the rain-shortened YellaWood 500 NASCAR race at Talladega today. In doing so, Wallace became only the second Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup race, the first being Hall-of-Famer Wendell Scott in 1963.
When asked about his win in that context Wallace told NBC, “I never think about those things.” The driver then became visibly emotional and responded, “When you say it like that, it obviously beings a lot of joy, a lot of emotion.”
"Just proud to be a winner in the Cup Series."
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 4, 2021
The win was not only Wallace’s first since becoming a full-time NASCAR Cup competitor in 2018, it’s the first win for co-owner Michael Jordan who, according to The Undefeated, “is the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since 1973.”
Wallace received congratulations from his fellow drivers.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson weighed in with a simple, “Congrats @BubbaWallace !!!”
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) October 4, 2021
Three-time NASCAR champ and Fox commentator Darrell Waltrip wrote, “@BubbaWallace you did it, you made a lot of history today, congrats to you and the entire team!”
@BubbaWallace you did it, you made a lot of history today, congrats to you and the entire team!
— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) October 4, 2021
Team Penske’s Championship driver Brad Keselowski, who came in second, posted: “I’m Happy for @BubbaWallace to get his first win.”
Raining hard now @TALLADEGA
Don’t see how we get back going.
I’m bummed to be so close to winning and miss the shot.
I’m Thrilled to head to the roval with a nice points cushion.
I’m Happy for @BubbaWallace to get his first win.
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) October 4, 2021
NASCAR Xfinity series driver Tommy Joe Martin addressed any hint that Wallace’s rain-shortened win might not be legitimate tweeting, “Any comments about it being rigged are ignorant. The whole field was racing like crazy for the lead…100% EARNED IT.”
Any comments about it being rigged are ignorant. The whole field was racing like crazy for the lead. Everyone knew rain was minutes away. @BubbaWallace used the 3rd line to get up front, maneuvered, took the lead, held the lead, & they wrecked behind him.
100% EARNED IT.
— Tommy Joe Martins (@TommyJoeMartins) October 4, 2021
The race, televised on NBCSN, had already been postponed from a scheduled Sunday start because of bad weather. In terms of viewership, NBC couldn’t have been happy to see it pushed to Monday, but can now lay claim to bearing witness to history.
According to NASCAR, “Wallace led five of the 117 laps in the YellaWood 500, which was stopped 71 laps shy of the full distance by the second rain shower of the day.” He was then declared the winner.
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