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When Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was declared the winner of NASCAR’s biggest race on Sunday, the 35-year-old, Mississippi-native made history alongside NBA great Brad Daugherty. Not only did he win his first-ever Daytona 500, as did his team, JTG Daugherty Racing.
As a result, owner Brad Daugherty became the first Black principal owner to win the race. In addition, part-owner Jodi Geschickter became just the second female owner to ever win a Daytona 500.
It was a monumental victory for the driver and his team, but also NASCAR.
Daugherty is one of two Black principal owners of race teams with Cup charters. The former No. 1 pick in the 1986 NBA Draft and five-time NBA All-Star, had his jersey retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers and scored more than 10,000 points in his career.
He, a North Carolina basketball legend, owns JTG Daugherty Racing. Michael Jordan, another North Carolina basketball legend, co-owns 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin.
23XI has never won a Daytona 500, so Daugherty finally got one back on Jordan.
Daugherty reached the playoffs five times with Cleveland. Four out of five of his playoff runs ended with losses to Jordan the Bulls.
In 1989, Jordan hit the ‘The Shot’ and eliminated Daugherty and the Cavs in the process.
After Stenhouse Jr.’s win in Florida on Sunday, Daugherty finally has bragging rights.
I talked to him for a few minutes. He said that he and Michael Jordan are already talking trash.— Jodi Geschickter, via The Charlotte Observer
Jordan 4 — Daugherty 1!
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s victory looked different than most.
The win looked different from a standpoint of the driver crossing a long-elusive win off of his list of accomplishments. It also looked different from a standpoint of the people backing him.
Tad Geschickter, who runs the race team alongside his wife, Daugherty, and Gordon Smith, appreciates that JTG Daugherty is unlike the others. He told the Charlotte Observer that NASCAR garages don’t reflect how America has looked for the last 55 years.
Everyone has different points of view and different talents and treasures. And Brad certainly adds a different element to what we do, a different thinking, a different background, and I think that’s the same way for our engineers, our tire-changers, our drivers. It’s sorely needed. NASCAR has done the heavy lifting to really call that out as a priority, and we’re going to keep digging in that direction.— Tad Geschickter, via The Charlotte Observer
Although Stenhouse Jr.’s Daytona 500 win may not have come with the most exhilarating finish, it served a purpose greater than tires meeting the track. It proved that diversity has a place in NASCAR and that differentiation in perspective, background and personality leads to success on a greater scale!