With all the talk of Danica Patrick as the first woman to start on the pole at this Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Daytona 500 race, there’s another minority making history in the lower levels of NASCAR.
He is 20 year African American driver Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (which is two levels down from the top level Sprint Cup Series and was originally called the Craftsman Truck Series), and will race a full season for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the # 54 Toyota Tundra, which is also operated by Joe Gibbs Racing.
Darrell is the first African American to be signed to an entire year of racing at any NASCAR level since Bill Lester was a full time NASCAR Truck Series driver from 2002-2007.
Darrell is no rookie to racing, he was part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program from 2009-2011 and had a successful run the NASCAR K & N Series (originally the Busch North Series), with six wins and was 2010 rookie of the year in that entry level of NASCAR racing and the first African American to win a race in that series.
Darrell also raced in several races in the middle level NASCAR Nationwide Series last year and started on the pole for one race (Dover International Speedway), and had three top ten finishes at Richmond, Columbus & Dover Speedways.
Prior to that Darrell’s racing resume includes three wins and 11 top fives in 23 Late Model races in 2009, 11 wins and 34 top 10s in 38 Legends starts in 2006 & Won 35 of 48 Bandoleros races entered in 2005.
So the Mobile, Alabama native has plenty of “seat time” and knows his way around a race track with a good winning percentage. NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series is definitely a development league and Darrell should fit right in as he progresses in his racing career.
The NASCAR Camping World race this week is at Daytona International Speedway just like the “The Great American Race”, the Daytona 500 which is held on Sunday. But the Truck race is Friday night at 8 P.M. and having Darrell as a permanent fixture in the field for the start of the NASCAR series is enough to get me excited for racing.
So at long last there is a little diversity in multiple ranks of NASCAR, hopefully this is the beginning of a trend.