It’s been a long wait—58 years to be exact—but NASCAR finally has its second Black Cup Series race winner, per ESPN.
On Monday, Bubba Wallace was leading the YellaWood 500 with three laps to go in stage two when the already rain-delayed race was red-flagged due to inclement weather. As such, after a 45-minute wait, he was declared the winner, and the 27-year-old trailblazer finally achieved what had often felt unattainable throughout the course of his career.
“Got some credibility to my name now,” Wallace said after his historic win. “I’m just like, ‘Finally, I’m a winner and I’m a winner in the Cup level,’ and it’s just like ‘Hell yeah!’ It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Here’s the exact moment the first-time Cup winner learned that his 143rd start would become etched in the record books:
In August, the family of Wendell Scott, who became the first Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race back in 1963, finally received the trophy from his historic victory. As we previously reported at The Root, Scott’s trophy was nowhere to be found after he was declared the winner hours after the race:
Scott passed Richard Petty with 25 laps remaining at Speedway Park in Jacksonville on Dec. 1, 1963, in the Jacksonville 200.
Buck Baker, who actually finished second, was declared the winner and received the trophy in a Victory Lane celebration. Race officials discovered hours after the race that Scott was the actual winner by a full two laps on the rest of the field. But he was not credited with the victory for another two years and his family has long pushed for a proper celebration.
Thankfully, although Wallace has faced his own share of adversity throughout the course of his racing career, he was spared a similar injustice after his win on Monday. But in speaking to reporters afterward, he also didn’t allow his historic victory to didn’t stop him from being transparent in addressing the challenges he’s faced as a Black man in an overwhelmingly white sport.
“It’s definitely been tough going to some of the tracks this year, we get some of the most boos now,” Wallace said. “Everybody says as long as they’re making noise that’s fine, but you know, I get booed for different reasons, and that’s the tough thing to swallow. I appreciate all those who were there doing the rain dance with us, pulling for us, supporting me my whole career, but especially those who have supported me with everything that’s gone on the last 15-16 months.”
From discovering a noose in his garage stall to incurring the wrath of NASCAR fans for playing a key role in the eventual ban of Confederate flags from NASCAR events and properties, Wallace has seen it all. And while he might have more than his fair share of detractors, he has plenty of people in his corner supporting him along the way—including those of us at The Root.
Micheal Jordan, who recruited Wallace to drive for his newly-launched 23XI racing team, released a statement to congratulate the Concord, N.C., native.
“I’m so happy for Bubba and our entire 23XI racing team,” Jordan said. “This is a huge milestone and a historic win for us. From the day we signed him, I knew Bubba had the talent to win and Denny [Hamlin] and I could not be more proud of him. Let’s go!”