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Darrell Wallace Jr. makes NASCAR history with win at Martinsville

Darrell Wallace Jr. won the NASCAR truck race Saturday in Martinsville, Va., becoming the first African American driver in nearly 50 years to win in one of NASCAR's national series.

The only other black driver to do so was the late Wendell Scott, who won a race in late-1963 in the equivalent of what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Wallace, a truck series rookie who turned 20 this month, won the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in his No. 54 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville Speedway after leading a race-high 96 laps.

"We congratulate Darrell Wallace Jr. on his first national series victory, one that will be remembered as a remarkable moment in our sport's history," NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a statement.

As The Times noted in a profile of Wallace last February, NASCAR has been closely watching Wallace's progress because no African American currently drives full time in NASCAR's premier Cup series or its second-level Nationwide Series.

NASCAR's third-level circuit is the truck series, which features highly modified pickup trucks.

Aware that its lack of diversity was a problem, NASCAR in 2004 started its "Drive for Diversity" program to help develop minorities and women in racing, and Wallace -- nicknamed Bubba -- is one of the program's graduates.

Wallace, a member of Joe Gibbs Racing, had made four Nationwide starts before running full time in the truck series this year in a vehicle prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports. This was Wallace's 23rd start overall between the two series.

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