Drive For Diversity Hits A Milestone In Martinsville


Kyle Larson en route to the pole Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. (Jacob Seelman/Race Face Digital photo)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Saturday evening at Martinsville Speedway provided more than just a celebration of Hendrick Motorsports’ 40-year anniversary in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Kyle Larson’s Busch Light Pole Award during qualifying for the Cook Out 400 also marked a significant milestone for NASCAR’s long-running Drive 4 Diversity program.

The pole-winning effort by Larson at the .526-mile paper clip was the 50th combined pole position among NASCAR’s three national series for alumni of the Drive for Diversity, the industry’s leading developmental program for drivers and pit crew members representing minority bankgrounds.

Launched in 2004, NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative strives to provide opportunities for minority and female individuals within stock car racing, from drivers and pit crew members to owners and sponsors.

Over the past two decades, the D4D program has propelled multiple drivers to the national series level, most notably Larson, Daniel Suarez, and Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR Cup Series but also Nick Sanchez and Rajah Caruth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, both of whom have won races this year.

Larson’s 2012 championship in what was then the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (now the ARCA Menards Series East) helped pave the way to his first NASCAR Xfinity Series opportunity with Turner-Scott Motorsports, before he ever looked at advancing to the Cup level with Chip Ganassi Racing.

He drove for team owner Max Siegel and Rev Racing, which continues to operate the racing arm Drive for Diversity program today, at that point in his career and won two races en route to that championship.

Larson Diversity

Kyle Larson with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship trophy at Rockingham Speedway in 2012. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images photo)

It’s a period that Larson reflected on proudly when told of the statistic by Motorsports Hotspot following qualifying on Saturday.

“I was in the program 12 years ago or so, and it did a lot for my career then to gain experience,” Larson said. “That was really my introduction to pavement racing, especially in stock cars. To kind of see how it has evolved over the years and the equipment that they have now, it seems really good. Drivers are able to go out there and compete at a high level now.

“Hats off to everybody that’s part of the Drive for Diversity Program. It’s always growing and getting better.”

Larson has earned the most national series poles among D4D graduates with 27 overall – 18 in the Cup Series, seven in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and two in the Truck Series.

In all, five drivers have contributed to the diversity pole total: Larson, Suarez, Wallace, Sanchez, and Caruth. All three Cup Series drivers in that group have won at least one pole in all three of NASCAR’s national divisions.

The Drive for Diversity also recently crested the 50-win threshold in NASCAR national series competition as well, with Larson also delivering that benchmark when he won the Truck Series race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway on May 20, 2023.

D4D graduates have won a total of 57 NASCAR national races to date, with Suarez and Larson winning in the Cup Series this year at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway and Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, respectively.

Larson also won the Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas last month, while Sanchez won the Truck Series opener at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway in February and Caruth was victorious in the Truck Series stop at Las Vegas in March.

Suarez’s Xfinity Series championship in 2016 marked the first NASCAR title won by a modern-era diversity driver, with Larson adding a Cup Series championship to that list three years ago.

For more information on the NASCAR Drive for Diversity, visit or

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.