Bubba Wallace has reached an agreement to drive the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports full time next season.
A source confirmed the news to Autoweek on Wednesday morning.
Wallace spent four races behind the wheel of the No. 43 subbing for the injured Aric Almirola after a violent crash at Kansas Speedway fractured the veteran’s back. When Almirola and sponsor Smithfield Foods announced their respective departures from the team, Wallace was deemed the successor pending funding.
The team confirmed the news on Wednesday afternoon with a press release.
“This is a dream come true to race for ‘The King,’ Richard Petty Motorsports, the iconic No. 43 and for all the fans and partners that have and continue to support this team,” Wallace said. “I believe in what Richard Petty Motorsports is doing and their desire to win races. 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 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.
“We have hired a lot of different drivers in the past, but Wallace brings a lot of youth and talent to our team,” Petty said. “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. 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.”
Wallace will become the first full-time African-American driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since Scott. Partners for Wallace and the No. 43 team for the 2018 season will be announced at a later date.
By Matt Weaver