Wallace will be the second confirmed Rookie of the Year candidate, joining Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron. Current crew chief Drew Blickensderfer will continue as Wallace’s crew chief.
As a result of RPM’s move, Wallace will be the first African-American racer to compete full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in the modern era, as all but nine of Wendell Scott’s starts came before the 1972 season.
Wallace is overjoyed at the prospect of racing full-time for the King.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
While the news was just announced on Wednesday, someone may have jumped the gun a little bit. This video that Wallace posted to his Twitter feed post-announcement was uploaded to MSN on Tuesday. After being online for 20 hours, it was quietly pulled down just before the announcement was made.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) October 25, 2017
Team co-owner Richard Petty is quite excited about RPM’s future with Wallace in the No. 43.
“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 was one of the three drivers to substitute for Almirola (along with Regan Smith and Billy Johnson) earlier this season after Almirola suffered a back injury at Kansas in May. Wallace drove four races in the No. 43 with a best finish of 11th at Kentucky Speedway.
With Smithfield Foods departing for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season, sponsorship is still up in the air for the No. 43. The team’s official press release notes that partners for the team will be announced at a later date.