Bubba Wallace Speaks Out on NASCAR Diversity Before Daytona 500: ‘Lot of Work to Be Done’

by Thad Mitchell

NASCAR star racer Bubba Wallace is heading into one of the biggest races of his career with the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Wallace is noted by many as one of the most successful African American drivers in the history of the NASCAR racing. In 2018 Daytona 500 he took second place, the highest place of any African American driver in the race.

The 2020 season did not go the way anyone thought it would, including Wallace who was primed for a big year. As it did with many other sports, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the 2020 NASCAR season. The season was stopped by racing officials only four races into the season due to pandemic concerns. Wallace was 18th in points when the 2020 season came to a screeching halt.

Despite the racing stoppage, 2020 did have some big moments for Bubba Wallace. NBA legend Michael Jordan announced in September that he NASCAR veteran Denny Hamlin would be joining forces. The two spots stars would create 23XI Racing and recruited Wallace to be their first driver. He will race in the number 23 car for the newly found team.

In an interview with CNN Sports, Wallace says he hopes to do well on Sunday in the Daytona 500. He says he wants to start the new season of with a “bang.”

“The Daytona 500 is the biggest race of our year, and we have to start out with a bang,” he says in the interview. “So it would be nice to finish one spot better than we did three years ago. Get that W.”

Bubba Wallace Says Diversity Heading in Right Direction

Wallace is the first African-American driver to race full time in NASCAR’s top series since Wendell Scott in 1971. He says he believes NASCAR is taking positive steps to promote diversity in its sport.

“Diversity is taking a huge leap in the right direction, I believe,” he says. “Still a lot of work to be done. But for MJ (Jordan) and a person of his stature to come through and want to be an owner in a sport and show like, ‘Hey the sport is changing,’ hopefully it encourages others to want to do the same.”

Wallace has long been a proponent of equality and has worn “Black Lives Matter” clothing while racing. He also called for NASCAR to ban Confederate Flags from racing courses last year, which they did.