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Bubba Wallace Makes Black History in First NASCAR Victory

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Over a year after a noose found in his garage at the same track prompted a hate-crime investigation by the FBI, Bubba Wallace made history Monday by winning a rain-shortened race at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway to become just the second black driver to win in NASCAR’s top series.

“This is for all the kids out there that want to have an opportunity and whatever they want to achieve, and be the best at what they want to do,”  an emotional Wallace said following the win. “You’re going to go through a lot of (BS). But you always got to stick true to your path and not let the nonsense get to you. Stay strong. Stay humble. Stay hungry. Been plenty of times when I wanted to give up."

The 27-year-old Alabama native, driving the 23XI Racing team's No. 23 Toyota — a car number picked for him as its first driver by majority owner Michael Jordan — led for the last five laps of the race after driving through a wreck to take the lead before the race was officially called with dusk approaching and 104 of 188 laps complete.

It was the first victory by a black driver 1963 at NASCAR's elite Cup level since 1963 when Wendell Scott — whose life served as inspiration for comedian Richard Pryor's "Greased Lightning" racing epic —accomplished the feat only to have NASCAR deny him the official victory for months. His family was just recently presented with his trophy from that race. 

"I'm so happy for Bubba and our entire 23XI Racing team. This is a huge milestone and a historic win for us," Jordan, who started 23XI Racing alongside NASCAR legend Denny Hamlin in 2020 said in a statement posted to the team's Twitter account. "From the day we signed him, I knew Bubba had the talent to win and Denny and I could not be more proud of him. Let's go!"

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