Bubba Wallace’s Historic Daytona 500 Fueled By Call With Hank Aaron

Second place has long been considered the first loser. For NASCAR driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, though,  finishing second made him a big winner in the eyes of one Major League Baseball Hall 0f Famer.

Wallace’s second-place finish at Sunday’s Daytona 500 was historic for a multitude of reasons, as it was the highest finish by an African-American driver in the history of the “Great American Race.”

While Wallace and his mother were overcome with emotion after the finish, a pre-race phone call from Hank Aaron might have helped spark his historic run.

“Hey, Hank Aaron is on the line,” the co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports Andrew Murstein told Wallace as he was preparing on the pit road, per the Charlotte Observer.

“That’s awesome,” Wallace replied.

But what did the for baseball legend say to Wallace?

Well, Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal reported that Aaron had told Wallace “from one Mobile son to another, always believe in your dreams, and anything is possible.”

During his 23-year MLB career, Aaron faced similar adversity as Wallace playing in a predominantly white sport. Aaron ranks second all-time in career home runs with 755 and widely is considered one of the most influential African-American athletes in history.

Wallace is the first African-American to compete in the NASCAR Cup series in 12 years and is the first full-time African-American driver since Wendell Scott in 1971.

If he can manage to win the next race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on February 25, he will become the first African-American to win a NASCAR cup race. 

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