Bay Area

Bubba Wallace wins first NASCAR race at Talladega

Bay Area
Bubba Wallace's first career win came in Monday's rain-shortened race at Talladega.
USA Today

It didn't take long for Michael Jordan to make an impact in the NASCAR world.

Bubba Wallace, the driver of Jordan's 23XI Racing car, won his first career race on Monday at Talladega Superspeedway after rain soaked the track while he was leading. The race was shortened to 117 laps, but was deemed official because it was past halfway point of the 188-lap race (lap 94).

Wallace, 27, is just the second African-American to win a NASCAR Cup Series race and the first since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in 1963. It was Wallace's 143rd career start, but just the 31st start for 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Jordan and Denny Hamlin.

Wallace, who hails from nearby Mobile, Ala., took the lead at his home track on lap 113 and held off several hard charges from hungry competitors. Everyone was aware that rain was on the way and the race could be called at any moment.

On lap 116, Ryan Preece, William Byron and Matt DiBenedetto wrecked to bring out a caution. Then, rain started pouring and the cars were halted. Mother nature cooperated for Wallace and the race was called 17 minutes later.

Fighting back tears in his post-race interview, Wallace took in the history of what he just accomplished.

"I never think about those things," Wallace said when asked about being the first African-American to win in nearly 58 years. "When you say it like that it obviously brings a lot of emotion, a lot of joy to my family, fans, friends. It's pretty damn cool. Just proud to be a winner in the Cup Series."