Professional stock car racer Bubba Wallace made history this past Sunday. According to ESPN, he became the first Black driver to ever lead a lap in the prestigious Daytona 500.
Wallace’s milestone came in the second stage of the race, when his No. 23 Toyota took the lead on lap 129. The No. 23 may seem familiar to most, and it should, as Sunday’s race was Wallace’s first one as a member of 23XI Racing, the Nascar team co-owned by Michael Jordan.
Despite some success throughout the race, the 27-year-old ultimately finished in 17th place. With 22 laps left to go, Wallace felt vibrations due to a loose wheel on his vehicle, forcing him to pit and fall a lap behind.
He later tweeted about his performance after the race.
The 2021 Daytona 500 finished in dramatic fashion when Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski caused a fiery, multi-vehicle crash that proved to be very disruptive.
Keselowski was running second overall in the final lap behind teammate Joey Logano when they eventually collided. The accident impeded their progress and driver Michael McDowell was able to avoid the crash and win the race.
Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan, also finished 5th overall in his attempt to “three-peat” at the event.
In 2018, Bubba Wallace finished second in the Daytona 500, the highest finish ever for a Black driver.
Denny Hamlin, his current team owner, commented on his performance Sunday stating, “…he was running up front and battling for stage wins, that’s what we want to see.”
We are all wondering when Wallace will capture a Nascar Cup win, or become a Cup Series Champion.
His representation alone will continue to inspire other minorities, and help increase their interest in racing.