Wallace to become first black driver in Cup race since 2006

Vincent De Villiers
Junho 7, 2017

Seven years after their first win together, Siegel is quick to note the ironic twist in Wallace's next step on the racing ladder.

What happens to Wallace when his services are no longer needed by Petty?

Roush Fenway Racing announced Monday that Wallace will drive the No. 43 Ford Fusion for Richard Petty Motorsports in Sunday's Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway.

With this step into Cup competition, Wallace Jr. hopes this opportunity helps open the door for more diversity in NASCAR.

"I guess I'm beating myself up over it right now, that may have something to do with it. It just shows that we're trying to bring in a new demographic", said Wallace. He began his career when he was 8-years-old after his father bought him a go-kart.

"Driving the famed 43 vehicle is an unbelievable opportunity for any race auto driver", Wallace said. Replaced by Regan Smith, Richard Petty Motorsports has used the journeyman driver as a week-to-week substitute for the former Coke Zero 400 victor.

The team and Wallace will evaluate opportunities for him to run other Xfinity races this season.

" You got to be ready for what comes at you", Wallace said. "I think the biggest thing is focusing on Pocono, making sure we can get, or I can get, all that I can out of the auto, making the most of the weekend". That's how I was taught. There's no need for me to force a hole, end up tearing up a racecar. "Having had him drive for me when he was 15, I know that he's devoted to growing as a young driver and putting in his time". Lester has sent him encouraging tweets.

Darrell Wallace Jr. (6) talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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NASCAR has initiated several pushes toward boosting the number of minorities in the sport.

There isn't much diversity in NASCAR. Oh, and he's quite the social media star. Wallace will voice Bubba Wheelhouse in the upcoming "Cars 3" movie. "We definitely have to capitalize on that'". He's 0 for 83 in Xfinity — one reason why he said he hadn't yet made the jump to Cup.

"But to me, I think it really speaks volumes of the partnership that Rev has with NASCAR and the team that we've put together and the organization that supports these drivers".

Wallace, who started driving for Joe Gibbs, has been on a persistent hunt for steady sponsorship since his Xfinity Series debut in 2012. Without Wallace, Roush Fenway will suspend the No. 6 Xfinity team at Pocono.

Wallace is fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings for Roush Fenway Racing, which will suspend operations of his Xfinity vehicle because of a lack of funding after this weekend at Pocono.

Almirola broke his back in a crash at Kansas Speedway on May 13. Bubba Wallace has more than shown his racing ability in NASCAR. And for a sport that only asked fans in 2015 not to fly the Confederate flag, black fans have often felt uncomfortable at the track.

"I've been through 14, 15 years of racing", Wallace said.

He's only the fourth black driver to race in NASCAR's top national series. "With wheels and hitting two to three lug nuts on the last pit stop, that's where rules came from". "We got to go out there and make the most of it".

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