Long: Bubba Wallace shares momentous win with Wendell Scott’s family


TALLADEGA, Ala. — History came together in a break room adorned with disregarded candy and oranges, half-empty coffee pots and boxes of soft drinks.

Bubba Wallace, less than an hour after winning Monday’s rain-shortened Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, was handed a phone.

On the line was Frank Scott, son of Wendell Scott, whose victory on Dec. 1, 1963 made him the first and only Black driver to win a race in NASCAR’s premier series.

Until Monday.

Wallace took the phone into the break room, spun around and bent over as he shouted.

“How about that?!” he told Frank Scott.

Laughter followed for the two who have known each other for years.

“I know your dad is up there (in heaven), and he just said ‘Hell yeah,’” Wallace said on the phone.

Their conversation lasted less than 90 seconds – other duties called for Wallace – but it was a moment to appreciate the spectrum of Wallace’s win in what has been and remains a traditionally white sport.

“I wish I could have been there today with him,” Frank Scott told NBC Sports from his Danville, Virginia, home as family members celebrated in the background.

“But we were there with him. Not physically, but we were with him spiritually and emotionally. It was great, man.”

Wallace’s triumph was celebrated by many others, including Bill Lester, the last Black driver to compete in a Cup race before Wallace. Lester, who ran two Cup races in 2006, tweeted Monday how Wallace’s win “moves the NASCAR needle forward on so many fronts. Glad I was a witness.”

Wallace’s victory came nearly 16 months after fellow drivers pushed his car on pit road to the front of the grid at Talladega in a show of support for Wallace after a pull-down rope in his team’s garage stall was fashioned into a noose.

An FBI investigation later proved that the rope had been there for months and Wallace had not been the target of a hate crime.

But hate has followed Wallace, the only Black driver racing full time in any of NASCAR’s three national series. He’s faced social media harassment. Then-President Donald Trump issued a tweet that accused Wallace of a hoax.

Wallace was vocal last year in calling for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at tracks. He ran a Black Lives Matter car in a June 2020 race at Martinsville.

Wallace is among the drivers who typically receive the most boos during introductions before races.

“Everybody says, ’As long as they’re making noise, that’s fine,’” Wallace said. “I get booed for different reasons, and that’s the tough thing to swallow.”

Car owner Denny Hamlin said he can’t relate to what Wallace has gone through in his career.

“I see it on my social media,” Hamlin said. “People just automatically dislike me because I hired Bubba Wallace. ‘What are you talking about?’”

Ryan Blaney has known Wallace since they were racing in their early teens. He’s seen the hate directed toward Wallace. Blaney raced to be among the first to congratulate Wallace on his win Monday.

“He’s went through a lot,” Blaney said. “I think his perseverance has spoken a lot for the sport.”

It hasn’t been easy, Wallace admits. He used to read the hateful messages he received on social media.

“After a bad race, I would become one of those haters that doesn’t know anything,” Wallace said. “I would become one of them. Just start telling myself a bunch of dark thoughts. It never helped anything.”

Hamlin encouraged Wallace not to be motivated by those who hate him but to “get your motivation from trying to do the people that support you proud.”

That included Wallace’s mother, Desiree, perhaps best known to NASCAR fans for her emotional embrace with her son after he finished second in the 2018 Daytona 500. In tears, Wallace told her that day that she acted like he had won that day.

“We did,” she said. “We did!”

Monday, Wallace, who turns 28 this week, could celebrate a win with her in a brief call that had both crying.

“She is the number one person that knows how hard I am on myself each and every weekend, each and every day,” Wallace said. “She is always sending me positive encouragement, scriptures, just always is holding that positive light.”

Wallace has needed it. He’s discussed his bouts with depression, noting that while he is a race car driver, he is human. 

He also knows he can be too emotional at times in the car. That’s something he and his team have worked on this season and seen progress.

Wallace was steely in the car as he raced for the lead Monday. Rain had already delayed the race for 18 minutes before halfway and again was on the radar as Wallace raced among the leaders.

This time, the race had gone past the halfway mark, so if it was stopped and couldn’t be resumed, it would be official.

Wallace ran led a line of cars with Brad Keselowski, the winningest active driver at Talladega with six victories, immediately behind. Keselowski slammed the back bumper of Wallace’s car. Keselowski eased back to get a run on Wallace. With rain imminent, the field raced as if it was the last lap instead of more than 70 laps to go.

“We’ve been beat by them guys for … four years,” said Freddie Kraft, Wallace’s spotter. “You learn what they’re doing. I’ve gotten better. He’s gotten better at it.

“You’ve got to see it before it’s happening. If you’re trying to react to it, it’s too late. You’ve got to see as soon as he’s backing up. You’ve got to react to that. The farther back you let him go, the farther out you get. They’re just going to have that much bigger run. You’re trying to see stuff and predict stuff before they do it.”

Nobody could predict when the rain would come.

“I was right behind Bubba and had a chance to make the move to take the lead, but just felt like it was a little too soon with four or five laps left in the stage, and I didn’t want to get swallowed back up, but I picked the wrong move,” Keselowski said.

A crash brought out the caution with Keselowski behind Wallace. Then the rain came. NASCAR sent the cars down pit road where Wallace waited. A crowd of photographers surrounded him. Hamlin stood nearby under an umbrella.

The rain turned to a drizzle and NASCAR began to dry the track. Wallace walked to his pit box and waited.

The rain returned. It would take too long for NASCAR to dry the track before darkness. Talladega does not have lights around its 2.66-mile speedway. The race was over after 117 of 188 laps.

NASCAR had a new winner.

“I’m not going to be able to please everybody,” Wallace said. “Doesn’t matter if I won by a thousand laps or won a rain-shortened race, not everybody is going to be happy with it.

“That’s OK. Because I know one person that is happy, and that’s me because I’m a winner and they’re not.”

Back in Danville, Virginia, Frank Scott got to enjoy a celebration he’d been waiting more than 50 years to see.

It came less than two months after the Scott family received a trophy that Wendell Scott should have been given for winning that Cup race in 1963.

As Frank Scott pondered what Wallace’s accomplishment meant to him, he thought back to something his father said.

“I think of perseverance and determination,” Frank Scott told NBC Sports. “It’s like my father said one time: He said ‘Quitting is not the plan.’ If anybody thinks I’m going to quit, they got a mistake coming.”

Then Frank Scott added: “You don’t quit. You keep going.”

Just as Bubba Wallace did Monday.

Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Saturday Sonoma Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The Xfinity Series will compete for the first time at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This is one of eight road course events on the Xfinity schedule this season.

Seven Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race, including AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, who won last year’s Cup race at this track Allmendinger has won 11 of 25 career road course starts in the Xfinity Series.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Golden State Warrior Patrick Baldwin Jr. will give the command to start engines at 8:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. … Driver introductions begin at 7:35 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Earl Smith, team pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, at 8 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by 9-year-old Isis Mikayle Castillo at 8:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 79 laps (156.95 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 20. Stage 2 ends at Lap 45.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 8 p.m. ... Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on goprn.com. … SiriusXN NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: This is the first time the Xfinity Series has raced at Sonoma.


NASCAR Friday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The Xfinity Series makes its first appearance Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Xfinity teams, coming off last weekend’s race at Portland International Raceway, get 50 minutes of practice Friday because Sonoma is a new venue for the series.

Seven Cup drivers, including Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, are among those entered in the Xfinity race. Suarez won the Cup race at Sonoma last year.

Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday at the 1.99-mile road course.

Sonoma Raceway


Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)