DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the first time in the history of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, two females were a part of the same pit crew team in the same race. Former Alcorn State University softball student-athlete Breanna O'Leary and former Norfolk State basketball player Brehanna Daniels were part of a five-member pit crew for No. 51 Rick Ware Racing team of driver Ray Black Jr. on Saturday, July 7. O'Leary changed the rear tires, while Daniels changed the front tires during the Coke Zero Sugar 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Black Jr. finished 16th out of 40 in the race.
Both women were recruited for NASCAR's Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development program in 2016 after finishing as student-athletes in collegiate athletics.
"I take a lot of pride in being a female pit crew member. To make history with another female, especially my roommate, is pretty cool. The race was really exciting and a lot of fun," O'Leary said. "When I was at Alcorn, I never, ever thought of being a pit crew member. It wasn't until NASCAR Drive for Diversity came to campus and put on their tryout. It presented an opportunity for me and I ran with it."
"It's hard to believe I've only been changing tires for two years and now I'm here at the Monster Energy Series level," Daniels said in a NASCAR press release. "What I'm doing in NASCAR is so much bigger than me. It's been so rewarding to be part of history while at the same time inspiring others to take on challenges they thought might not be possible."
Daniels, who played for the Spartans from 2014-16, broke two barriers last year. She became the first African-American female to pit a national car racing series event last April for an Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) race in Nashville, Tennessee. In June 2017, she became the first to pit at a NASCAR national series event when she worked a truck series race in Dover, Delaware.
The Daytona race was the third of O'Leary's career and the second of 2018. She also was on the pit crew of the No. 51 team for the June 10 premier-series race at Michigan International Speedway.