Richard Petty Motorsports adds Darrell Wallace Jr. as full-time driver for 2018
NASCAR's top series will have its first full-time African-American driver in almost half a century in 2018, as Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. will drive the team's iconic No. 43 car.
Wallace, who made four starts for Richard Petty Motorsports as a relief driver this year, will replace Aric Almirola once he leaves following the 2017 season. Wallace had substituted for Almirola after the veteran suffered a fractured back in a violent crash at Kansas Speedway earlier this year.
"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 statement. "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 will become the first African-American driver to compete full time in NASCAR's top series since Wendell Scott in the early 1970s. Scott is the only other black driver in the sport's history to compete full time. A handful of other drivers have made a few scattered starts through the years.
Wallace, 24, entered the sport through NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, which develops minority drivers. He became the first African-American to compete in a top-level NASCAR event since 2006 when he drove in a June 11 race at Pocono Raceway. He previously made 45 starts in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, winning six races, and made 85 starts in the XFINITY Series.