Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. has been recognized as the overall 2020 winner of the NMPA Pocono Spirit Award for his advocacy in helping to make NASCAR a more diverse and inclusive sport, the National Motorsports Press Association announced on Monday.
Wallace, 27, the only African-American driver in NASCAR’s top division, was an outspoken proponent of the banning of the Confederate flag from NASCAR events, a stance the sanctioning body adopted in June of last year.
For the June 10 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Wallace unveiled a Black Lives Matter paint scheme on his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet.
On the hood of the car were the words "Compassion, Love, Understanding." Those words were emblematic of Wallace’s constructive activism in promoting inclusion within the NASCAR garage and fan base.
"It’s an honor to win the NMPA Pocono Spirit Award this year," said Wallace, who has moved to the 23XI Racing Toyota co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin for 2021. "In a year of ups and downs, what we were able to accomplish off the race track as a sport is something that is special and a proud moment for me.
"I didn’t set out to become an advocate this year, but as things were happening around our country, I found myself in a position to use my voice and push for change. I’m proud of what we accomplished, but we still have work today. Thanks to the NMPA and all of their members for this honor."
The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.
The membership of the NMPA votes for quarterly recipients as well as an overall winner each year. The award is sponsored by Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and has been presented annually since 1992.
Other quarterly winners in 2020 were: Wood Brothers Racing, for supplying electronic tablets to seniors on lockdown in retirement facilities; driver Josh Williams, for his program of hospital tours benefiting critically ill children; and Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex, for establishing the Sherry Strong Innovative Medicine Oncology Clinic in Charlotte, N.C.
— National Motorsports Press Association —