In preparation for the upcoming Daytona 500 race, NASCAR driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace is looking back on the sport’s progress of equality.
“I think everything that happened last year just kind of kick-started and ignited the fire in a really positive way. Glad that I could kind of be the leader and the charge of that, but we can’t become stagnant,” Wallace told CNN.
Wallace is the first African-American driver to race full-time in the NASCAR series since Wendell Scott in 1971.
“That’s the biggest thing. We have to keep moving, keep evolving, and keep up with the times.” Wallace said. “It’s really cool to see, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
For NASCAR’s most prestigious event, Wallace will take the track with the support of someone who knows about a thing or two about winning. Last September, NBA legend Michael Jordan announced he was partnering with the previous year’s Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin, to form a new racing team: 23XI Racing.
Bubba Wallace will be driving the No. 23 the 23XI car in Sunday’s race.
“Just his name in general brings a lot more awareness to our sport, a lot more eyes.” Wallace said of Jordan. “I’m just excited, grateful for the opportunity. I’ve been in the sport for 17, 18 years now and an opportunity like this hasn’t really come before and I’ve got to capitalize on it.”
Bubba Wallace Looks Ahead to Daytona 500 Following Thursday’s Duels
During Thursday night’s duel races, Bubba Wallace got a rude awakening after his race didn’t go as planned.
Wallace came close to a win in Duel 2, but his reaction afterward signified he wasn’t happy.
“A lot of mistakes,” Wallace told FS1 about his performance. “A good debut, but nothing to be really happy about for myself. It’s okay for drivers to be hard on themselves. That’s how we motivate ourselves to go out and do better.
“Hats off to my guys – the 23XI team – for building me a great DoorDash Toyota Camry. I tried to do all I could to help (Martin) Truex there, get Toyota a win, I appreciate Kyle (Busch) for cutting me a lot of break. I know I’ve got a lot to learn here, but all in all, it was a good night, but I’ve got some learning to do.”