NASCAR was ushering in a new era in the 2018 Daytona 500, and it couldn’t have started any better.
The scoring pylon at the end of the Great American Race looked like this: 3, 43.
Two of the sport’s most historic numbers. The No. 3 car, piloted by Austin Dillon, pulled into victory lane at Daytona on the 20-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s hugely popular Daytona 500 victory. The No. 43 car, made famous by seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Richard Petty, finished in second place in Bubba Wallace’s first Daytona 500.
An African-American almost won the Daytona 500. The sky seemed like the limit, as NASCAR tries to grow a fan base that is virtually non-existent in the sport. Only eight percent of NASCAR fans are black, according to a 2017 study but since that study there has definitely been an increase in the population.
This year, the 2019 Daytona 500 pulled in 9.17 million viewers which is a 23 percent drop from the 2017 edition of the race.
The emergence of an African-American superstar could do for NASCAR what Tiger Woods did to golf. It brought a whole new audience into the sport.
Check out our interview with Bubba Wallace at the 2019 Daytona 500.