This week, NASCAR recognized those who have contributed to enhance the diversity events within the NASCAR community both on and off the track.
“There is shared commitment across the NASCAR industry to champion diversity and inclusion, and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards celebrate the individuals and organizations whose contributions are making a difference,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR president.
“We’re pleased to recognize this year’s award recipients whose efforts and accomplishments are helping drive our sport forward.”
The awards highlight exceptional accomplishments by diversity champions from across the industry, including participants of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver and Pit Crew Development Programs and the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
Driver Development Program graduates Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace, and NASCAR K&N Pro Series prospect Hailie Deegan.
Among those recognized was NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew member Derrell Edwards was the first graduate of the program to be part of the Daytona 500 winning team with Austin Dillon.
The Baltimore, Maryland native feels the importance of being a role model for young people like where he came from in the inner city.
“It’s very important for me,” said Edwards. “It’s emotional for me because I understand what it means to struggle and deal with adversity.
“I want the kids to understand and I tell them if I can do it they can.”
Edwards had other people he looked up to while growing up in Baltimore and never dreamed he would wind up in NASCAR when he was younger.
“I looked at people like Carmelo Anthony and my brother that I look up to (from my hometown),” Edwards. “I come from a place that who ever thought would a young man with NBA dream would wind up being a jackman in NASCAR. I would have never planned it that way.”
Edwards participated in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Combine and thanked one of the sport’s most popular teams of all time for making his new career a reality.
“Without Richard Childress Racing I wouldn’t be here as I wouldn’t have known anything about Drive for Diversity,” said Edwards. “I did an internship at High Point University to get to NASCAR and it took one person to educate me about NASCAR and now I want that role to switch where I can educate people.”
2019 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Award recipients:
National Series Driver Award: Martin Truex Jr. – The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion established the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 with long-time partner, Sherry Pollex, with a mission to support those who have been affected by cancer, specifically ovarian and pediatric cancer. The foundation began its partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., in 2015.
Diverse Driver Award: Ruben Garcia Jr. – K&N Pro Series East driver Ruben Garcia Jr. is a native of Mexico City and is in his fourth season with Rev Racing as a member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program. He’s also the reigning two-time NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion.
Partner Award: Dow – Dow’s commitment to diversity is highlighted through its program support and engagement with Richard Childress Racing.
Crew Member Award: Derrell Edwards – Baltimore native Derrell Edwards is the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program affiliate to win the Daytona 500 as an over-the-wall crew member. Following a successful career as a basketball player at High Point University, Edwards became a jackman at Richard Childress Racing.
Young Racer Award: Lacy Kuehl – NASCAR Drive for Diversity Youth Driver Development Program. In 2018, she raced in a dirt oval flat kart at tracks such as Florida Dirt Motor Speedway, Crossroads Motorplex, Ambassador Racing School and Space Coast Full Throttle Speedway.
Outstanding Intern Award: Maxwell Miranda and Isaiah Wright – Maxwell Miranda and Isaiah Wright made an impact as standout participants in the 2018 NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
Institution Award: The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Children’s Fund – The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Fun Day Festival began in 2017 as a small effort and grew to a multi-city program reaching hundreds of children. The event takes place in six race markets (Phoenix, Dover, Chicago, Daytona, Michigan and Martinsville) with more than 100 children participating in each.
Track Award: Richmond Raceway – Richmond Raceway’s relationship with Virginia State University, a nearby Historically Black University, grew rapidly in 2018.
Team Award: Stewart-Haas Racing – Stewart-Haas Racing has continued to grow its reach into Hispanic markets with the addition of Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang. In the four months since Suarez joined the team, Stewart-Haas Racing has supported the Daniel's Amigos campaign at Auto Club Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
Industry Ambassador Award: Jose Cervantes, Watkins Glen International – Cervantes has been instrumental in creating various relationships within the Latino community at Watkins Glen International. Since joining Watkins Glen, Cervantes has coordinated appearances with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez in each of the track’s key markets – Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.