Wallace becomes the first black driver to win NASCAR Cup since 1963

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Bubba Wallace on Monday won his first NASCAR Cup Series race, becoming the first black driver to win in the series since 1963.

Wallace won the YellaWood 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, also getting a first win for 23XI Racing, the organization owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan and driver Denny Hamlin, in its first season.

The race was postponed from its original Sunday start because of bad weather, with rain also forcing a brief halt with 71 of 117 laps to go.

The 27-year-old became the first black driver to win in the series since Wendell Scott’s lone victory in 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida, NASCAR said.

“We got our first win here in Talladega, so fitting with everything that’s gone on here, the history here,” Wallace said after the race.

In June 2020, a rope formed as a noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway. The incident was deemed racist and NASCAR rallied behind the driver.

Wallace, who backed the Black Lives Matter movement and was instrumental in pushing for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag – seen by many as a symbol of racism – from its events, at the time called the incident a “despicable act of racism and hatred.”

After an investigation the FBI said the episode was not a hate crime as the rope was installed the previous year and, while formed like a noose, was used to open the garage door. Wallace and NASCAR however insist it was a noose.

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