DARLINGTON, S.C. — Darrell Wallace Jr. has been recognized as the second-quarter NMPA Pocono Spirit Award winner for his advocacy in helping to make NASCAR a more diverse and inclusive sport, the National Motorsports Press Association announced on Wednesday.
Wallace, 26, the only African-American driver in NASCAR’s top division, has been an outspoken proponent of the banning of the Confederate flag from NASCAR events, a stance the sanctioning body adopted in June of this year.
For the June 10 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Wallace unveiled a Black Lives Matter paint scheme on his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet.
On the hood of the car were the words “Compassion, Love, Understanding.”
“It’s an honor to accept the Spirit Award, for sure,” Wallace said. “Looking back, I thought just by standing up for what’s right and speaking out on the problems the nation faces and how we can be better, not only as a sport but also as a society, is powerful.
“And I encourage everybody to use their voices to speak up for what’s going on wrong in the world and try to make this a better place for all. So, thank you for the opportunity, and we’ll try to keep pushing the envelope to make things better.”
Wallace was selected for the award by vote of the NMPA membership.
Also receiving votes were Bobby Bennett, publisher and editor of CompetitionPlus.com, who survived COVID-19 and established the C19 to encourage plasma donations from fellow coronavirus survivors; and Ford Motor Company, which in April launched a Donation Match program, through which the Ford Fund committed to match up to $500,000 in employee contributions to community organizations engaged in the fight against COVID-19.
Wallace is now eligible for the year-end NMPA Pocono Spirit Award, to be voted by NMPA members, as is first-quarter award winner Wood Brothers Racing.