Darrell Wallace Jr. to step up to NASCAR's second-tier series

Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive next year for Roush Fenway Racing in NASCAR's Xfinity Series

Darrell Wallace Jr., who made history last year by becoming the first African American driver to win in one of NASCAR's top three series in nearly 50 years, is taking a step up in stock car racing's ranks.

Roush Fenway Racing said Thursday that it has signed Wallace, 21, to drive next year in NASCAR's second-level circuit, which is now called the Nationwide Series but is changing its name to the Xfinity Series starting in 2015.

NASCAR's other two national series are its premier Sprint Cup Series and its Camping World Truck Series.

Wallace had been racing in the truck series and in 2013 he won his first truck race in Martinsville, Va., becoming the first black driver to win a NASCAR national series race since the late Wendell Scott won in late 1963 in the equivalent of what is now the Sprint Cup Series.

Wallace then won four more times this year in the truck series, including a repeat victory at Martinsville.

It wasn't immediately known if Wallace will drive the full 33-race Xfinity Series season. Roush Fenway said it was still working out how many races Wallace would enter and sponsorship for Wallace's No. 6 Ford Mustang.

Wallace said in a statement that in joining Roush Fenway, "I take that as a responsibility to add more wins to the team's legacy and help tear down the barriers for the next generation of NASCAR drivers."

Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark said in a statement that Wallace "has a charismatic personality and at the same time has exhibited the ability to win on the racetrack."

"He is viewed in industry circles as one of the brightest young drivers and I feel that we are very fortunate to be able to bring him on board," Newmark said.

Wallace, who's nicknamed Bubba and previously drove for Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports, has raced in six prior Nationwide/Xfinity races and recorded four top-10 finishes.

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