After weeks of rumors, it is finally official. According to NBCSports, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr. will be racing for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2018. He will be driving the iconic number 43 car.
In a press release, Wallace said:
“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. 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.”
Wallace will be the first full time African American driver in the Cup Series since Wendell Scott in 1971.
The Wallace-RPM union had been rumored for months, but a lack of sponsorship had slowed an agreement. Wallace himself clouded things (a little) when he said he has other “irons in the fire” to consider.
Wallace would take Aric Almirola’s seat with RPM. Wallace had filled in when Almirola was injured. And Richard Petty has made no secret he likes Wallace.
He noted that he’s still working on joining Richard Petty Motorsports and taking the No. 43, “But obviously with the sponsorship deal they got going on it puts things in a different light, so we’re trying to work through a lot of things to figure out what is next for me and my … team.”
The Petty/Smithfield Foods divorce seems to have become the sticking point for Wallace. Without a regular Cup or XFINITY Series ride for 2017 because of a lack of a sponsor, Wallace seemed to be looking for something stable — hence, the “more irons in the fire.”