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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Has Tony Stewart Gift-Wrapped IndyCar Its Own Bubba Wallace?

The drama involving Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott made people forget pretty quickly that Bubba Wallace won at Talladega during the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs just six days earlier. Wallace’s breakthrough triumph re-introduced the subject of race to the sport, this time in a positive way. Now, an IndyCar team is on the path to a breakthrough moment of its own and may have Tony Stewart to thank.

There have only been two Black drivers in the Indianapolis 500

Ernie Francis Jr. waves to fans before climbing into his car during the Camping World Superstar Racing Experience event at Slinger Speedway on July 10, 2021. | Logan Riely/SRX via Getty Images

Wendell Scott was the first in 1963, and now Bubba Wallace has become the second Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race. Juxtapose that with the history of open-wheel driving in this country. Only two Black men, Willy T. Ribbs (1991) and George Mack (2002), have even so much as raced in the Indianapolis 500.

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