Richard Petty Motorsports have announced today that Darrell Wallace Jr will drive the famous #43 car full-time in next year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Wallace drove the #43 car for Petty earlier this year as a substitute driver for the injured Aric Almirola. Now, he will take Almirola’s place full-time, with Aric announcing a few weeks ago that he would be leaving the team at the end of the season.
Wallace, commonly known as “Bubba”, has emerged over the last few years as a fan-favourite up and coming driver in NASCAR’s national championships. He has driven in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series during the last few years, with six race wins in the Truck series and a best race finish of second-place in the XFINITY series.
“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,” said Wallace. “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 made his NASCAR national series debut in 2012 after having raced in the K&N Pro Series as a NASCAR ‘Drive for Diversity’ programme member. He made several appearances in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012 before signing full-time with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series for the following year. He took third place in the 2014 championship before making the full-time move up the XFINITY series with Roush Fenway Racing for 2015.
Wallace in the middle of perhaps his most promising XFINITY campaign earlier this year when Roush Fenway closed their XFINITY programme mid-season; leaving Wallace without a drive. Luckily for him, he’d caught the attention of Richard Petty Motorsports, who were in need of a substitute driver in the Cup series after their driver Aric Almirola was sidelined with back-injuries due to a heavy wreck at Kansas Speedway.
Wallace drove the #43 car for four races – stepping aside for Sonoma in the place of ‘road-course ringer’ Billy Johnson – with Darrell taking his best finish of eleventh place in his final race as a substitute at Kentucky. Almirola would return to the car for the next race at New Hampshire, leaving Wallace without a drive once again. He took part in a race for MDM Motorsports in the Truck Series at Michigan in the LTi Printing 200, a race that he would massively impress in by taking an incredibly popular victory. His #99 truck would be declared illegal during post-race inspection, but that wouldn’t take away the incredible performance that Wallace put in; a performance that would further underline Wallace’s great potential.
“We have hired a lot of different drivers in the past, but Wallace brings a lot of youth and talent to our team,” said Petty after the announcement today, “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.”
Richard Petty Motorsports have yet to announce the primary sponsor for the #43 Ford Fusion, with previous partners Smithfield Foods having announced earlier this year that they would be moving to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2018; further fuelling speculation that Aric Almirola will fill the vacant #10 ride left by Danica Patrick.
Wallace will kick-off his rookie campaign in the Cup Series during Daytona Speedweeks in February.