Kroger 200

After win, Wallace hoping to inspire more African-American racers


After earning a historic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win today at Martinsville Speedway, Darrell Wallace Jr. expressed hopes that his victory can help fuel bigger African-American involvement in a sport where the roster of drivers has been predominantly white.

“Hopefully, it makes it easier,” he said. “I mean, this sport isn’t easy at all for sure – it’s taken us 18 races, I believe, to finally get here. Hopefully it’ll just make them want to jump in it now…You’ve got to be willing to do it and stick out through the thick and the thin.

“In this sport it’s more thick than anything.  But you’ve just got to keep chugging along, man. This is one of many, I hope.”

By winning today’s Kroger 200, Wallace joins Wendell Scott as the only black drivers to win a NASCAR national series race. Scott became the first after winning a Grand National (now Sprint Cup) race in 1963.

The late Scott, who was honored earlier this year by the Commonwealth of Virginia, was a native of Danville, Virginia, which sits about 30 minutes from Martinsville’s .526-mile oval. That fact was not lost on Wallace, who said he was thrilled to win “in Wendell Scott’s backyard.”

Wallace’s triumph is also a milestone for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which was created in 2004 to help minority and female drivers compete in the sanctioning body’s minor leagues with the goal of ascending to its national levels: Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks.

With his victory today, Wallace joins Kyle Larson as Drive for Diversity graduates who have gone on to win a NASCAR national series event; Larson, a Japanese-American, took his first such win in the Trucks this past April at Rockingham, North Carolina.

“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/CEO Brian France said in a statement.

“Darrell’s success, following fellow NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Kyle Larson’s win earlier this season, is indicative of a youth and multicultural movement that bodes well for NASCAR’s future growth.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.