The news that Darrell Wallace Jr. wanted to hear is finally here: a call up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Roush Fenway Racing XFINITY Series driver will become the first African-American to race in NASCAR’s premier division since Bill Lester did so in 2006.
Wallace, 23, will replace the injured Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford at Pocono Raceway, according to Motorsport.com’s Lee Spencer. RPM later announced that Wallace will drive the No. 43 car until its primary driver can return to the seat when he is fully healed.
“Driving the famed 43 is an unbelievable opportunity for any race car driver,” Wallace said in a press release. “With all that Richard Petty has contributed to the sport, I’m honored to start my first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event with this team. Moving up to the Monster Energy Series is a tremendous challenge, but I am ready to represent this organization, help the 43 team get the best results possible and prove that I belong at this level.”
The move comes at an opportune time for Wallace, who originally did not have sponsorship for his XFINITY Series ride past Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. However, Cars 3 sponsored him at Dover International Speedway and he will be competing in the XFINITY Series contest at Pocono Raceway in addition to the Cup race.
Roush Fenway Racing, as a result of Wallace’s promotion announced it will suspend operations for its No. 6 XFINITY Series team after Pocono. However, the team will search for additional sponsorship to field an entry for Wallace later in the year. This will leave RFR with Ryan Reed as its lone XFINITY Series full-time driver for the remaining portion of the 2017 season.
Wallace has seven top-10 finishes in 11 XFINITY Series races this year, sitting fourth in the championship standings. In the midst of his third consecutive season with Roush Fenway Racing, the Alabama native has an average finish of 13.7, including a streak of five straight sixth-place finishes.
Regan Smith had been subbing for Almirola since the RPM driver was injured in a crash at Kansas Speedway, where he fractured his T5 vertebrae. Almirola is expected to miss 8-12 weeks.
The No. 43 team currently sits 24th in the Cup Series owner standings.