Earlier today, Richard Petty Motorsports announced what had been rumored for several months. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace will drive the No. 43 full-time for RPM in 2018 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Wallace, is already one of the sport’s most popular figures with an incredible record of success behind the wheel. Wallace is a graduate of both NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs. The young driver has broken several barriers and records throughout his rise within the sport.
Admirable Substitute Seat Time
Earlier this season, Wallace made his MENCS debut as a substitute driver for the injured Aric Almirola in the No. 43 for RPM at Pocono Raceway on June 11.
The team noted that wallace showed rapid improvement over the four races he participated, substantially improving his finish position every race, culminating with an 11th place finish at Kentucky Speedway on July 8.
Wallace’s History So ar
Wallace initially rose to prominence in 2013 with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville Speedway, becoming the first African-American driver in 50 years to win a NASCAR national touring series feature since NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott. The next season Wallace finished third overall in the truck series point standings with four wins for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Wallace moved up full-time to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing in 2015, where he earned 31 Top-10 finishes over the last three seasons before making his Cup debut in June with RPM.
Driving for RPM
Wallace said it was a dream come true to race for Richard Petty and RPM in their famous No. 43.
“I believe in what Richard Petty Motorsports is doing and their desire to win races,” he said.
“I believe this team, its partners and fans are ready to see some great things again. I’m humbled that they have chosen me to take that next step with them. I’m ready for next season to begin and to prove to people that we can compete at the level we all expect to be at.”
Veteran and winning crew chief Drew Blickensderfer will continue to lead the No. 43 team in 2018 with Wallace. Petty believes that Wallace brings the current youth movement to RPM.
Richard Petty’s Take
Petty said they have hired a lot of drivers in the past, but that Wallace brought a new youth and talent to RPM.
“He’s proven at a young age to be able to be consistent on a weekly basis, give feedback to the team to help improve the car and race hard to get the best finish possible,” Petty said.
“He knows how to win, too. His records leading up to the top levels of NASCAR speak for themselves. We feel that Bubba can immediately come in and compete. He’s really eager to show what he can do and that he belongs in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The announcement also notes a landmark for NASCAR. He will become the first full-time African-American driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since Scott.
“There’s been a lot of people come up through the ranks and try to carry on the legacy that Wendell Scott laid down for us,” Wallace said.
“For me to step in that realm and take on that role, there’s a lot of pressure.”
Partners for Wallace and the No. 43 team for the 2018 season will be announced at a later date.
The RPM press release failed to mention Ford anywhere, making the earlier rumors of RPM leaving Ford still active and a distinct possibility for 2018.