MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that Darrell Wallace Jr. will take the reins of the No. 43, made famous by team co-owner Richard Petty, next season as he races weekly at NASCAR’s highest level.
Wallace, 24, will compete full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and begin his quest for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in February during the 60th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2018.
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Wallace is already one of the sport’s most popular figures and has an incredible record of success behind the wheel. A graduate of both NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, Wallace has broken several barriers and records throughout his rise within the sport.
He initially rose to prominence in 2013 with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, becoming the first African-American driver in 50 years to win a NASCAR national touring series event since NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott.
The next season, Wallace finished third overall in the Truck Series point standings, behind the strength of 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 and was in playoff contention through the early part of June this season.
He also returned to the Truck Series in August at Michigan, picking up the first-career victory for MDM Motorsports as a team in the series, but some of his proudest moments came this year at the top echelon of the sport.
After RPM driver Aric Almirola was injured in a crash at Kansas Speedway in May, Wallace made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut as a substitute driver for Almirola in the No. 43 at Pocono Raceway on June 11.
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.
Now, he’ll have an opportunity to showcase that improvement over a full season, driving arguably the most iconic number in NASCAR history.
“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.”
Veteran and race-winning crew chief Drew Blickensderfer will continue to lead the No. 43 team in 2018 with Wallace.
Petty adds 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,” explained Petty. “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.
Richard Petty Motorsports and Race Chaser Online managing editor Jacob Seelman contributed material to this report.