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No. 2: Darrell Wallace Jr. Wins at Martinsville

“We Came. We Saw. We Conquered.” @bubbawallace

It was history in the making as Darrell Wallace Jr. crossed the finish line at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with tears in his eyes. The 20-year-old driver’s first-place finish was not only a personal victory, but also a victory for the whole sport. Darrell became the second African American driver to win a NASCAR National Series race in the history of the sport.

“I’m speechless right now,” Darrell said. “I couldn’t even hold it together coming off (turn) four with the checkered. I still can’t.”

Darrell dominated the Saturday evening race at Martinsville leading 96 laps and winning a final restart with five laps to go to bring home the checkered flag. It was his 19th start in his rookie season as a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and his first win in a NASCAR National Series.

A win was certainly pending for the young driver, but had kept eluding him. Darrell was confident, however, as he went into the weekend race at Martinsville. He had come close to winning several times before, but costly wrecks had ruined those opportunities. At Martinsville, he was not going to try to win. He knew he was going to win before the green flag dropped.

“I had so much confidence coming into this race,” Darrell said. “I told my guys that I did, and I told everybody that asked if I was going to win I said, ‘Hell yeah’ every time. So, it was no maybe we’re going to try, this one was for sure and we capitalized.”

Previously, Darrell had been very successful in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, earning the Rookie of the Year honors in 2010 and a runner-up position for the championship. The victory at Martinsville renewed that drive and desire to win as he re-established in his mind that he was a winner.

Kyle Busch, who owns the truck that Darrell drove in the NCWTS, was excited for the young driver to earn his first win. As he said, that first win is often the hardest, but after that the wins can come more easily.

Darrell is also a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. He has raced for the team in the K&N Pro Series East as well as the NASCAR Nationwide Series, earning three top-10 finishes in his four starts in 2012. For 2013, Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports worked together to develop and advance Darrell’s career in racing with a full-time ride in the NCWTS.

“I had a chance to talk with Darrell and his father in victory lane today and we are just thrilled for him and his entire family on the win in Martinsville,” said Joe Gibbs, Owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We obviously think a lot about Darrell. He has tremendous talent and we really believe he can have a huge impact on our sport.”

Not far from Martinsville Speedway is Danville, Va., the hometown of Wendell Scott. Scott became the first African American to win a NASCAR National Series race in 1963 in Jacksonville, Fla. His victory however was not acknowledged until the day after the race.

Winning in Wendell Scott’s backyard was significant for Darrell and added to the importance of the win for him as it recognized the advancements of multiculturalism in NASCAR. Although Wendell Scott passed away in 1990, his sons, Wendell Scott Jr. and Franklin Scott, have supported and mentored Darrell as he has pursued his racing career. For the Scott brothers, Darrell’s success will help to continue their father’s legacy.

For Darrell, this is just the first step towards a successful career in NASCAR.

Darrell Wallace Jr. Wins at Martinsville . Momentum-Builder: 5; Display of Strength: 5; History-Maker: 10; Feel-Good Story: 9

< No. 3: Kyle Busch & Interstate Batteries Win Texas No. 1: Matt Kenseth’s First Win with JGR >