By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Following his advocacy efforts to make NASCAR more diverse and inclusive, Bubba Wallace was recognized as the second quarter NMPA Pocono Spirit Award Winner.
Wallace’s advocacy started in early June in the wake of the death of Georgy Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. Prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver joined other stars in a joint message against racial inequality and racism.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 7, 2020
NASCAR President Steve Phelps also addressed competitors and fans prior to the green flag. During the pace laps, the field was brought to a stop on the frontstretch. Phelps then made a statement on behalf of NASCAR to team radios, as well as the broadcast partners.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed today's competitors prior to today's race at @amsupdates. pic.twitter.com/7fZLUMkWxj
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 7, 2020
Post-race, the 26-year-old then successfully lobbied NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from the premises of all NASCAR properties and events. The ban on the Confederate flag brought in a wave of new fans and inclusivity.
Compassion, Love, and Understanding
On June 10 at Martinsville Speedway, the Mobile, AL native drove a No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE emblazoned with Black Lives Matter. With the words ‘Compassion, Love, Understanding,” on the hood, the only African American driver in the Cup Series finished both stages inside the top-10 before taking the checkered flag in 11th.
“It’s an honor to accept the Spirit Award, for sure,” explained Wallace. “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. He was one of three that received votes for the award. Wallace is now eligible for the year-end NMPA Pocono Spirit Award. That is voted on by National Motorsports Press Association members. He joins Wood Brothers Racing, which won the award in the first quarter of 2020.
The announcement of the award comes the week of the regular season finale for the Cup Series. Wallace is 22nd in the points standings, 194-points behind the cutoff, held by William Byron. The only way that the third-year driver can advance to the 2020 playoffs is with a win Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
In 101 Cup Series starts, Wallace has two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. This season he has a single-season record of four top-10 finishes with 11 races remaining.
Other Second Quarter Nominees
Bobby Bennett, the editor and publisher of CompetitionPlus.com was another nominee that received votes. Bennett survived COVID-19 and then founded C19, an organization that encourages other coronavirus survivors to donate plasma. Those plasma donations are then used to help treat others that are battling COVID-19.
Another nominee that received votes was the Ford Motor Company. In April, the NASCAR OEM launched a Donation Match program. Ford committed to match employee donations up to $500,000, through its charitable Ford Fund.
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo