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Has Gibbs found NASCAR's black star? Nearly every major American sport has black stars, including Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Serena Williams, but the top three Nascar national series have none. It is a glaring absence in a sport desperate to attract new fans and diversify its audience. Darrell Wallace Jr., 18, who is scheduled to make his debut in the lower-level Nationwide Series on Sunday at Iowa Speedway, just might be the one to finally break through.
"We really feel that Darrell is a guy that has a gift behind the wheel," said J. D. Gibbs, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing, one of the top teams in Nascar. Gibbs has been searching for Nascar's first black star for nearly a decade, beginning with a collaboration with Reggie White before he died in 2004, and signed Wallace in 2009, when he was 15. "I think it's a real value to this sport if you can kind of have that piece fit in," Gibbs said.
"Other sports, it kind of happens naturally. This sport's hard because of the barriers to entry because of the cost standpoint." Darrell Wallace Sr., who owns an industrial cleaning business, has spent nearly $1 million to support his son's racing.
Now Gibbs has taken over. The plan is to have Wallace race in four Nationwide events this year, with the possibility of a full schedule in 2013. Nascar officials will be among those watching closely on Sunday. NY Times
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