Bubba Wallace Makes History As The First African American With A Podium Finish In The Daytona 500
The young racer is beating the odds.
February 19, 2018 at 11:14 pm
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr, 24, now holds the title of the highest-finishing black driver in the Daytona 500. At this year's race, Wallace came in second by 0.28 seconds, with Austin Dillon taking first.
After coming in second place on Sunday, he had an emotional exchange with his mother, the Associated Press reports.
As Wallace stood on the winners' dais, preparing to accept his trophy, his crying mother Desiree Wallace, jumped up and gave him a hug “I’m so proud of you. You have waited so long, baby.”
“You act like we just won the race,” Bubba said, laughing.
“We did win that race, baby. I love you. I’m so proud of you,” his mother replied.
The race was only the driver's fifth career start. He is currently the only black driver in NASCAR, and is the first to start the storied Daytona 500 in 49 years. The last black driver to do so was Wendell Scott, whose best Daytona finish was 13th in 1966.
The finish was especially sweet for Wallace given recent challenges.
"We’ve just been through so much the last couple of years," Desiree Wallace said. "He’s done so much trying to prove himself to everyone."
In 2017, the driver lost his sponsorship and his ride in the second-tier Xfinity Series. He also injured his back last season and missed seven races. But now, he's back and ready to claim checkered flags.
“I just try so hard to be successful at everything I do, my family pushes me each and every day, and they might not even know it, but I just want to make them proud," he said.