It was announced this week that Xfinity Driver of the no.6 car for Roush Fenway Racing – 23 year old Darrell Wallace Jr (AKA Bubba) would be driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, starting in Pocono. He would make his debut in the legendary no.43 car of Hall of Famer, Richard Petty, for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Wendell Scott became the first black person to ever run in the top level of NASCAR back in 1961. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as ground breaking as many might have hoped, given that only two other black drivers have competed at that level since. The latter of which – Bill Lester – only competed sporadically between 1999 and 2006. However, that’s about to change for the first time in 11 years.
Following Aric Almirola’s injury from a horrific wreck in Kansas, the fill-in driver of the no.43 has been decided on a week-to-week basis and has since been occupied by Regan Smith. Bubba has raced with NASCAR in the lower levels for five years, including four career wins in 44 Truck Series starts. He will now fill in for Almirola.
It was also announced that Roush Fenway Racing–who Bubba drives for in the NASCAR Xfinity Series–will suspend the No. 6 team following the race at Pocono Raceway. Bubba is currently fourth in the points standings with seven top five finishes this year. You certainly can’t deny that Bubba has incredible consistency after finishing 6th five weeks in a row, and again two weeks later in Richmond.
RFR team president Steve Newmark released the following statement:
“We are very proud of Bubba and his development at Roush Fenway Racing. We believe that Bubba has tremendous potential and will continue to excel in NASCAR’s top series. He has been a great representative of our organization both on and off the track and we’ve enjoyed being part of his growth as a driver. Our entire team is excited to see him take the next step in his career and make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the No. 43.”
The team has struggled with sponsors, however RFR and Bubba will continue to evaluate potential opportunities that’ll allow for Bubba to race in future Xfinity races.
In a sport that is predominantly white, this is an exciting opportunity. Bubba is an extremely talented driver, and his success could potentially attract a new wave of drivers from all ethnicities. When compared to other American sports where there are black stars, such as Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, NASCAR has a distinct lack and almost absence of diversity both on the track and in the stands. After a long struggle with diversity, a victory for Bubba could be the turning point that NASCAR needs. We’ll be watching.