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2-Headed Monster: Should Bubba Wallace Go to Ganassi or Become an Owner at RPM?

The silly season is finally here, and with each passing day there is a little more news that trickles out that helps us know what the NASCAR landscape is going to look like in 2021. One of the more interesting rumors that was reported on this past week was the rumor about Bubba Wallace‘s future for 2021 and beyond.

According to several reports, Wallace is a candidate to take over the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series. That ride was vacated by Kyle Larson after he was fired during the COVID-19 pandemic for saying a racial slur during an iRacing event. Since then, the car has been piloted by Matt Kenseth, who came out of retirement to take the ride at Ganassi. It’s assumed that Kenseth will not be back with the No. 42 next season, instead going back into retirement. That means that the organization will have to fill that seat, and Wallace’s name has surfaced as a major candidate for that ride.

Additionally, Forbes reported this week that Richard Petty Motorsports, Wallace’s current ride, has offered him an ownership stake in the No. 43 Chevrolet to stay with the organization. Some reports have the percentage in the range of 10-20%, with co-owner Andrew Murstein confirming that Wallace has been offered a stake in the team. Rarely does a team go to this lengths to keep a driver, and having an ownership stake in an organization would mean long-term benefits for him.

It’s a tough situation for the Mobile, Alabama native. Does he stay with the organization that has seen him grow over the last three years? Does he take the deal and become a part owner of a Cup Series team, something that few people get an opportunity to get? Or does he drive the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing and put himself in a better opportunity to win races in the short term?

We decided to put this dilemma to the test and see what our writers think is the better move for Wallace to make. Clayton Caldwell and Vito Pugliese discuss what they think is the best decision for Wallace to make.

Racecar Drivers Want to Win Races

A driver wants nothing more than a chance to prove himself in good equipment. For Bubba Wallace, moving to the No. 42 car would be the opportunity he’s waited for his whole life.

He could stay at Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and have a nice long career, but he would always be wondering about what if. What if he took a more competitive ride at Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR)? How would his career be different if he went to CGR rather than staying at RPM?

Look at what the No. 42 team has done recently. It was an extremely competitive car with Kyle Larson behind the wheel. Larson won six races with that team in his last four full-time seasons. Wallace’s current ride, the No. 43 car at Richard Petty Motorsports, hasn’t visited victory lane since July 2014.

It’s also important to consider that Chip Ganassi Racing gets their engines from Hendrick Motorsports. They are arguably the second-best organization in the Chevrolet camp. There’s no question Wallace would have an opportunity to prove himself.

I understand that all it takes is two or three bad years to be out of a ride and for a career to be over. I also understand a team can struggle due to circumstances entirely out of a driver’s control but which can result in that driver losing their ride. A bad three-year run at CGR could see Wallace forgotten about, just like many other drivers before him. But a better chance of success outweighs many of the negatives.

Chip Ganassi Racing has something that Wallace has never had in his Cup career: a teammate, and a former champion at that. Veteran Kurt Busch has over 700 starts and 31 career victories to his name. Who better to learn from than a driver with a mountain of success?

Richard Petty Motorsports is a solo car operation that is just competitive enough for a young driver looking to prove themselves as a solid racer in the Cup Series. That’s exactly what Wallace has done in his tenure with RPM. He has proved that he can be consistent racer and has shown flashes of what he could be in a solid ride.

I believe that is the ceiling for Wallace at Richard Petty Motorsports. It’s time for him to take the next step in his career. Being an owner isn’t what it used to be, and Wallace would likely receive little in monetary value with a stake in the team.

Unless RPM gets a ton of funding, tightens its alliance with Richard Childress Racing (or with another organization for that matter) or significantly improves, it would be a chore for any driver, let alone Wallace to make the playoffs. Is that really what he wants to do that for the rest of his career? If all he wanted was a stable income, that might be enough. But Wallace is a racer, and the potential to win races and be a perennial playoff contender is too good of an opportunity to pass up. – Clayton Caldwell


Big Picture Racing with a Look to The Future

Bubba Wallace and the No. 43 team have started showing signs of consistency and increased performance since wider discussions of racism thrust the group into the spotlight two months ago. After a miserable 2019 that saw the King’s Camaro perpetually finishing 25th or lower, it seems like things are now heading in the right direction for Wallace in his ascent through the NASCAR ranks.

Wallace will be 27 years old when the 2021 season starts after having a rocky road to the Cup Series. He’s nowhere near over the hill yet and still has about three to five years before most drivers find the right stride with a capable team. But he’s in an interesting position: Wallace has had the spotlight shone on him, making his name more recognizable than this year’s Daytona 500 winner. It would make sense to see Wallace looking for a championship-winning ride – but is there a better option?

Prior to the events at Talladega this year, RPM co-owner Andrew Murstein made a comment stating he’d gladly sell the team if a buyer came along with the right offer. With Wallace serving as the face of the sport, there’s money out there now. He’s the guy that sponsors want to be partnered with. If the trajectory of Wallace’s career has shown anything, is that NASCAR is a business that can be cruel and unforgiving, particularly if your team isn’t attracting any sponsorship.

With Wallace as part of the ownership group, coupled with his position as the only African-American driver in the largest racing series in North America, he’d be joining the ranks of the next generation of NASCAR ownership. Richard Petty is 83. Roger Penske, 81. Jack Roush, 74. Joe Gibbs, 72. The names and faces we’ve become familiar with over the last 30 years aren’t getting any younger, and the reality of time will dictate new ownership and names to carry the sport on for the next 30-40 years.

Richard Petty Motorsports hasn’t built its own cars for almost 10 years now, having purchased them from Roush Fenway Racing when the organization was with Ford, and now Richard Childress Racing since it moved to Chevrolet. However, interest from new manufacturers and upcoming changes to the rules package mean that the future of NASCAR will be rife with unpredictability. Teams who have participated in the sport for years might have an advantage against the new teams with teething problems.

The short-term gain of getting a new three- or four-year deal with a top-15 team might seem like the culmination of a professional body of work. But given the transitions that will be coming in 2021, I’d look beyond the potential of a few top 10s by partnering with an existing team of any caliber for the long term. It’s time to think big and to invest in a team for the future.

Besides, then Wallace doesn’t have to worry about getting rid of that No. 43 tattoo he got last year. – Vito Pugliese

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About Clayton Caldwell

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Clayton has been writing NASCAR for the last seven years and has followed the sport for as long as he can remember. He's a Jersey boy with dreams of hoping one day to take his style south and adding a different kind of perspective to auto racing.

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50 comments

  1. Avatar

    Baseball has player cards. Nascar has the bubba race card. Maybe this rumour is true. Last time Chip hired the half Japanese kid. Perhaps this time he’s hiring the half white guy.

    • Avatar

      Who really cares what happens Nascar is getting publishing the sport just stinks would love to use another word and Wallace is a joke of a driver. And Petty enterprise is a joke there are a lot better drivers out there why didn’t they want apiece of the team? It’s a joke go formula 1

    • Avatar

      He’s not that good if you ask me. Yet they might have a gold mine…just because

  2. Avatar

    At least he’s getting these opportunities based on talent alone. Not like there is any other reason. Wink.

  3. Avatar

    Public relations people trying to spin up a new drama. An investment company owning a race team is only going to spend minimum $ required to make the show. Roush Fenway seems to be the same. Winning is left to the big teams.

  4. Avatar

    Based on the social climate, I imagine BW will always have at least SOME sponsorship lined up. Financially, it would make most sense to put that leverage to use from the top as part ownership. CGR is a step up, but they are from world beaters or the upper echelon of race teams.

    One knock against BW would have to be his emotions. Does he snap again like he did in the iRace and lose more sponsorship, but on a company level?

    A funny side element to this story is how a few years ago The King mentioned anyone who knelt for the anthem would be fired. My, how the (financial) times have changed!

  5. Avatar
    Mike in Oro Valley

    Bubba Wallace is a different version of Danica Patrick. A great story to tell, but not a great story. Deep pocket sponsors are not lined up at his front door. Out of the recent turmoil RPM found the Cash App deal. But it is transient sponsor at best. No matter where he goes he is a mid pack runner. His best chances of one day running out of the blue (pardon the pun) Top 10 and consistently employed is not Richard Petty Motorsports.

    • Avatar
      Marvin Jefferson

      No disrespect to Danica. But she was in top notch equipment and still couldn’t win. Put BW in SHR, Gibbs, or any of the other top teams equipment and he’s a winner.

      • Avatar

        And you know this how?
        Bubba hasn’t won in any of NASCAR’s three series. There are drivers that have been put on top tier teams and haven’t won. So, what do you base your comment on?

  6. Avatar

    It’s all about the Benjamins. Currently BW is the new Danica. Murstein said sponsors were calling to get on The BW bandwagon. Unless his finishes improve dramatically this will cool off just like Danica. Moving from RPM to CGR would be a step up but not by much. CGR is a second tier team. The talent of Kurt Busch is holding the team together. Kenseth is a better driver then the cars he’s driving. NASCAR is Chip’s cash cow. His real love is Indy car and IMSA.
    The reality if it is because there is so little to write about the lack luster of the sport this is being made into a bigger deal then it actually is. I doubt there are many fans that even care about where BW goes. Maybe it’s a coincidence but the tv ratings are sinking fast since the BW controversies. I personally know several fans that walked away after those deals.
    One thing to keep in mind is RP is no spring chicken. One has to wonder what will happen to that team when Richard retires. His name still has good value but the team performance is not there. Keep in mind being part owner of a team means you will be accepting financial responsibility for any losses that may occur.

  7. Avatar

    The bigger question is, why should anyone care?

    • Avatar

      And perhaps thats the message for the “sport” as a whole this year.Despite being virtually the only televised major sport for several months they couldn’t capitalize. Perhaps they were able to save the TV contract. Which is admittedly a big deal, but thats all.
      They have been overwhelmed by other events COVID and the resulting economic disaster, as well as political unrest, and uncertainty.
      When and will it recover? Who knows but I suspect it wont be soon. As for BW I suspect that any driver whose contract is expiring is looking at the potential for few seats and thinking they need to move quickly.

    • Avatar

      I agree he can’t even drive plus that was bs about the moose. Just one big joke right after another.

    • Avatar

      Totally Agree. For fifty years I lived.and died Nascar. Now, with all of the Bull Shit going on’s
      I don’t care if I ever watch another race.

      • Avatar

        I have been a Petty fan for 55 years !!! I only watch now to see baby Bubba wreck !

      • Avatar

        Got one deleted , let’s go for two . There’s an old adage ” Remember where you came from ! ” How sad that our sport forgot !

      • Avatar

        BUBBA 1 WALLACE is very Impressive and QUALIFY to Win in Nascar Cup (Monster Energy) Once he has the Right Equipment! Haters are going to Hate !!

        • Avatar

          And you base this on what? A feeling in your left nut? He hasn’t won in Trucks, Xfinity or Cup. There are drivers that have been on top tiered teams that haven’t been able to win so there are no guarantees. Haters are going to hate but lovers are going to blindly defend the objects of their affection regardless of what the facts say.

  8. Avatar

    No brainier. Move on driver

  9. Avatar
    Sara Alejandra Gutierrez

    I thank that Bubba Wallace is to be the best owner of Richard Petty Motorsports though

  10. Avatar

    I’m surprised NA$CAR hasn’t found a way to gift him a win.

  11. Avatar

    Nascar needs to be split up like AT&T’s monopoly in the 80’s. Kinda the same way Formula 1 split. Nascar has become to big for its britches and pandering to these liberal trouble makers like BW is the reason I no longer support or watch any nascar races. He should be tossed out on his arse for coming up with that whole noose propaganda message. Until nascar starts pandering to the people who made them rich again I’ll just spend my money on more guns and ammo.

  12. Avatar

    Who cares. I don’t know anyone that watches anymore. NOOSECAR has milked everything they can from a non story.

  13. Avatar

    I’ve been a Nascar fan for years and I even liked bubba Wallace but he has did everything vhe could to stir up the races sh_ t I think he should be fired from the sport for being a racist and running Nascar and NASCAR it is your own fault as well when ratings drop.

    • Avatar

      Amen on the above stories. BW has hurt NASCAR more than anything else that I have witnessed. It is going to be hard for nascar to recover from the BW stories. The president jumped to quick instead. Of checking the facts before calling the FBI.

    • Avatar

      NASCAR wa ts to grow and diversity is what. Is good for the Sport.

  14. Avatar

    In my opinion if NASCAR right from the beginning with the Confedrate Flag deal would have said we’re not getting Into politics over this, would have been a very simple solution. I’m not a racist but when people say all lives matter and then their called a racist I just don’t understand that.

  15. Avatar

    The scribe here referred to Bubba as the new face of the series. I have nothing against bubba at all, he has shown some talent in the past In late models & trucks. With that said, how can a mid packer be the new face? Wouldn’t a better choice maybe be a top five finisher or something. Is this official? The p.c. crowd seems to want it both ways, they preach colorblindness to us but then clamor over this guy because he has a
    Percentage of black in him & elevate him to the great new hero. Racing has always been about performance on the track, but I am one of those ex fans they wanted to get rid of.

  16. Avatar

    He should find a different profession

  17. Avatar

    Please explain why I got deleted !! Baby-Bubba is one of his nicknames .

  18. Avatar

    Haha, someone posted with better equipment he’s a winner, hahaha. You cant make this stuff up. Bubba can barely eeck out a top 10 if 1/2 the field crashes out and he lucked into having enough fuel to finish.
    Any updates on Tony Stewart series? Nascar is Blockbuster, to popular to die😂

  19. Avatar

    please explain why both of my comments were deleted !!!! I used no profanity and posted truth !

  20. Avatar

    Bubba Los Angeles has your back to all the Haters out there

    • Avatar

      Phew… I’m sure that you having his back makes him sleep better at night.
      Who are you again?

  21. Avatar

    So many comments that claim William Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr “He hasn’t won in Trucks, Xfinity or Cup”. For the record he has 6 race wins in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. While the haters and critics just want to be right. Without the true facts at their fingertips.