Last Saturday's win by Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway was important for many reasons, but the most important may yet to be felt.
Former driver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Kyle Petty talks about the long-term ramifications of Wallace's victory - the first by an African-American driver in a NASCAR national series race in 50 years.
"Saturday was a big step for NASCAR, its Drive for Diversity program and the
sport in general. 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," Petty said.
"The doors don’t seem to have opened as quickly or there haven’t been as
many people coming through any open doors. But we’ve been seeing change with
Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Bubba Wallace, engineers 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. It’s
incredibly tough to break that driver barrier because of the sheer numbers. There are 43 Cup drivers, 30 to 40 Nationwide drivers and 30 to 40 Truck
drivers. You’re looking at no more than 100 or 125 people, so the numbers are
against everyone - not just minorities. But if the door is open and the
barrier has been broken, it is easier for people with talent, regardless of
race, creed or color, to get here.”