Brehanna Daniels made history last year when she became the first African-American woman to pit a car in one of NASCAR’s top three series.
Now Daniels, who is a tire changer for Stephen Leicht’s No. 55 Toyota in the Xfinity Series, has higher expectations.
“Hopefully one day I can be on a Cup team,” said Daniels, 24. “That’s the ultimate goal to break every barrier I can being an African-American female in this sport. I feel like a female can do anything a man can do.”
Daniels, who played college basketball at Norfolk State (Va.), went to a tryout two years ago when she was a senior in college after a friend said she should give it a try. Daniels didn’t grow up watching NASCAR and watched a pit stop for the first time on a video. That didn’t stop her from excelling at the tryout and earning a spot at the National Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Combine. She made her NASCAR pit debut last summer.
Daniels has been able to rely on her basketball skills in the pits, with her hand-eye coordination from her point guard days paying dividends. The same excitement she had playing hoops also plays out when she jumps over the pit wall.
Daniels realizes people are watching her, and she’s embraced the role. At last month’s race in Fontana, Calif., she posed for pictures with fans, got hugs and received words of encouragement.
Moments like that put help provide perspective for Daniels.
“It’s crazy it took this long to happen,” she said. “I made history last year. You would have thought it happened before. I felt like God put me in this position for a reason. It’s tough to be the very first to do something. It’s going to come with a lot of things. I’m taking on a challenge and enjoying it along the way.”