NASCAR Cup Series
Waltrip speaks on Wallace Jr
NASCAR Cup Series

Waltrip speaks on Wallace Jr

Published Oct. 29, 2013 10:27 p.m. ET

Darrell Wallace Jr.’s breakthrough win in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway did more than earn him a deserved spot in the history books as only the second African-American driver -- and the first in 50 years -- to win a NASCAR national series race. It also renewed widespread, spirited conversation regarding diversity in NASCAR, and helped propel FOX Sports 1’s race broadcast from Martinsville to a 1% increase in viewership over last year’s race, making it the most-watched program of the day on the network.

As Wallace Jr., known as “Bubba Wallace,” and the series head to Texas Motor Speedway for Friday’s event (live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 PM ET; NCWTS SETUP at 8:00 PM ET), NASCAR on FOX analysts and Wallace Jr. discuss the topic in the Q&A below:

On overall significance of Wallace Jr.’s win and what it means for the future of NASCAR:

“He’s a dang good race car driver. Being the first African-American in 50 years to win a NASCAR race is the secondary story, though. Whether you’re red, yellow, black, white or purple, if you can’t get the job done behind the wheel, you won’t have a job. But Wallace will have a job for a long time to come, and it has nothing to do with skin color but everything to do with his talent.” --Kyle Petty, NASCAR on FOX analyst


“The biggest thing has nothing to do with him being African-American but rather with me observing his career from its infancy. He and my son, Brandon, raced against each other in practically every series, and in 2008, had a spirited battle for UARA Rookie of the Year. It has been a joy to witness his success on the next rung of the ladder each and every time.” --Larry McReynolds, NASCAR on FOX analyst

“This win will draw attention to what NASCAR has been working on for some time now with its Drive for Diversity program -- to bring in young, minority drivers to diversify our sport, open doors to a new audience and break up what has been the ‘norm’ in NASCAR the last few decades. It’s a new day in NASCAR. It’s a real ‘red-letter day’ for the sport.” --Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX analyst

“That Bubba is the first black driver since Wendell Scott to win reminds us how far NASCAR reality is from Brian France's stated intention -- ‘My goal is to make NASCAR look like America.’ Still, it's a step in the right direction. We're one checkered flag closer to the day when the winning driver's race, color or creed, or for that matter, gender, simply doesn't matter." --Dave Despain, NASCAR on FOX analyst

“Hopefully it changes it for the better. It’s increasing every day. Starting to see more minorities in the stands, behind the wheel of these cars, working at the track, you name it, with sponsors … it’s all changing. That’s the main goal. That’s what (NASCAR’s) Diversity program is for, as I come up through the ranks of that. Just trying to do the best I can on track and off-track.” --Darrell Wallace Jr., on Monday’s NASCAR RACE HUB on FOX Sports 1

On whether Wallace Jr.’s talent is overshadowed by his race:

“Darrell is not a driver who simply is part of a program. He can drive and he has a great personality. He’s engaging and people like him.” --Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX analyst

“He is a great driver, regardless of the color of his skin, and a good kid. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface with Darrell Wallace Jr. He made a name for himself Saturday, but you’ll continue to hear that name for years to come.” --Larry McReynolds, NASCAR on FOX analyst

On where NASCAR goes from here with its diversity efforts:

“No matter how much we want to rewrite history and make it politically correct, NASCAR predominantly was a white, Southern sport for so many years. Only in the last 20 or 25 years has it become more of a national sport. But we’ve been seeing change with Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Bubba Wallace and crew members all through the industry. The sport is well on its way to being just a microcosm of any other business. The last barrier to break is the driver barrier because of sheer numbers. There aren’t more than 100 or 125 drivers in NASCAR, so the numbers are against everyone -- not just minorities. But if the door is open and the barrier broken, it’s easier for people with talent, regardless of race, creed or color, to get here.” --Kyle Petty, NASCAR on FOX analyst

On Wallace Jr. being part of a changing face of NASCAR:

“Darrell Wallace Jr. is the face of a changing NASCAR. He’s in the Truck Series with other 20-somethings with a ton of talent who have earned the right to be there. But he now has stepped a little higher as a more diverse face. We need more yellow bumpers out there and we are right on the verge of a breakthrough with several young, talented drivers who will shake up NASCAR again like happens every 15 or 20 years. Darrell Wallace Jr. is one who can fill those shoes.” --Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX analyst

On efficacy of NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in grooming young, minority talent:

“I applaud NASCAR for establishing the program to give people outside the normal realm of past NASCAR competitors the chance to compete.” --Larry McReynolds, NASCAR on FOX analyst

“Without the Diversity program or Kyle Busch having the vision to work with him, Darrell may never have gotten the opportunity to win a NASCAR race. He had a fast truck a number of times but made some mistakes, and Kyle really helped him along.” --Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR on FOX analyst

On whether Wallace Jr.’s win puts NASCAR more on par with other professional sports in terms of diversity:

“I put the Sprint Cup Series in the same league as the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Wallace’s win came in the Truck Series, so we’re not there yet with other sports because we don’t have a minority, other than Danica Patrick, a female, competing in Cup. But Bubba can make it to the Cup level, and when he gets there then we can compare Sprint Cup to other pro sports.” --Kyle Petty, NASCAR on FOX analyst


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