Brehanna Daniels, Dalanda Ouendeno Make NASCAR History

The NASCAR Daytona 500 race this Sunday (February 14) will include some historic firsts in the racing company’s history. 

At the NASCAR Cup Series race in 2018, Brehanna Daniels became the first Black woman to be in a NASCAR pit. That same year, Daniels, along with Breanna O’Leary, became the first female NASCAR pit crew members to work on the same team. They are both graduates of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program initiative, and are friends and former roommates. 

Now, Dalanda Ouendeno, will become the first foreign-born graduate of the Drive for Diversity program to be in the pit crew for the Daytona 500. Ouendeno, who was born in France, is an alumna of University of Miami, and like Daniels and O’Leary, a college athlete. 

“Making history, it means a lot, and I feel like God couldn’t have picked anybody else better to do the job,” Daniels, who is a Norfolk State University alumna, told PEOPLE. “It takes a strong person to be in the position that I’m in to make change. And definitely all the other women that looked like me.” 

At the upcoming Daytona 500, Daniels and Ouendeno will be a part of the pit crew for No. 51 Rick Ware racing team. O’Leary will pit for Chip Ganassi Racing. 

Their spots on pit crews is the result of NASCAR’s efforts to create a more inclusive environment, including their ban on the Confederate Flag from races

In response to hateful comments, the women say they brush off the negativity. 

“I really don’t listen to what they naysayers have to say,” Daniels said. “It just gives me [the] motivation to do more of what I’m already doing. Everybody’s not happy that I’m in the position that I’m in… but I’m optimistic about things. I don’t really change for anyone.” 

Photo: Getty Images 

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