Richard Petty Motorsports may not have a sponsor for its No. 43 car in 2018 but it has a driver.
The team said Wednesday that Bubba Wallace would be its driver in 2018. Wallace filled in for the team in 2017 when Aric Almirola was recovering from a fractured vertebra he suffered at Kansas in May.
“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,” team owner Richard Petty said in a statement. “He knows how to win, too. His records leading up to the top levels of NASCAR speak for themselves.”
Wallace will become the first black driver to compete full-time at NASCAR’s top level since Wendell Scott drove in 48 of 49 races in 1968. With a win in the Truck Series in 2013, Wallace became the first black driver to win a NASCAR national series race since Scott. Wallace has six wins in the Truck Series, including a win in his only start in 2017.
Wallace started the 2017 season driving the No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series. But the team shut down in June, leaving him without a full-time ride. He filled in for Almirola for four races and had a best finish of 11th at Kentucky in July.
The Xfinity Series team shut down because of a lack of sponsorship, a similar situation to what RPM is facing right now. Longtime sponsor Smithfield is leaving the team at the end of the season and heading to Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s likely that Almirola, who is not returning to the team, will head to SHR along with Smithfield. The pork company has been the primary sponsor of the No. 43 car since 2012.
No replacements for Smithfield have been announced and RPM said Wednesday that sponsors would be revealed at a later date.
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