The news that Darrell Wallace Jr. will compete fulltime for Kyle Busch Motorsports in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series this season underscores the value and potential for NASCAR's Drive For Diversity program.
The program, now in its 11th season, seeks to provide opportunities for minorities and women to participate in NASCAR.
Rev Racing is the Drive for Diversity's primary platform, fielding four teams in the K&N Pro East Series as well as two Whelen All-American Series teams.
Wallace is currently a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing officials recently announced that development driver Kyle Larson, who also came through the Drive For Diversity program, would compete fulltime in the Nationwide series this season through an agreement with Turner Scott Motorsports.
Wallace is one of nine black drivers to compete in one of NASCAR's top three series. While he has raced for several years on his family-owned team, he said the diversity program provided him the opportunity to advance through the various NASCAR support series.
"They helped us out a lot, running with Rev Racing in 2010 and 2011, having a successful two years with those guys," he said. "That kind of opened up doors for the Nationwide side. I got the opportunity to run four races with JGR and a full season in the East Series with (Rev Racing.)"
Team President J.D. Gibbs said that it's been encouraging to watch Wallace progress through the various series.
"I think what is special for us is when we started this years ago with Reggie White ? the idea was kind of handed off to him," Gibbs said of the NFL Hall of Famer who died in 2004.
"The sport just needs more diversity. It happens naturally in other sports. It's not going to happen naturally (here) because racing is just expensive."
"As you know, Reggie passed away, but Joe and J.D. kept that energy alive and were really at the heart and soul of NASCAR's efforts," NASCAR President Mike Helton said at Saturday's news conference announcing Wallace's ride.
"Darrell is a great example of that opportunity turning into a progression of his career."
For Wallace, the 2010 K&N East Rookie of the Year, there's still much work to be done, however.
"I wouldn't say I've made it. I mean, I've got my foot in the door right now," Wallace said of the one-year agreement with KBM. "But I think it's showing people that they can do it, so it's up to me to go out there and have a great year in this, to do the best I can to open up the door a little bit more and let me step in a little bit farther."
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