By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: Three
Career Wins: Six Truck Series wins
Is the third year the charm? Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty Motorsports certainly hope so.
After scoring three top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 in his first full-time season with the team in 2018, there weren’t many high spots for the No. 43 team in 2019. The team only managed one top-five finish with a third place run at Indianapolis and ended the season ranked 28th in the points standings.
So, heading into the 2020 season, something had to give and the team is hoping a change atop the pit box will do the trick. Wallace will have his third crew chief in as many years, but this time around, it’s an old friend re-entering the fray and hoping to get the RPM group pointed in the right direction.
Jerry Baxter, who teamed with Wallace during his time with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Series in 2013 and 2014, was recently named the new crew chief of the No. 43 team and the two are hoping to parlay the success they had together in the past into future success in the Cup Series.
Wallace won five Truck Series races with Baxter at the helm, finishing eighth and third in the points standings in their two years together.
“The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season is a crucial year for Richard Petty Motorsports,” Wallace said. “As a team, we have made a ton of progress from my debut in 2018, and we are looking to continue that progress with Jerry calling the shots.
“He has been a great mentor, and even better friend, since we were able to work together in 2013 and 2014. I am excited to see him get this opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series, and use our past success to take this team to new levels.”
In the years since the duo worked together, Baxter has served as crew chief for a number of drivers in the Truck Series, including championship contenders Christopher Bell and Brett Moffitt, winning 10 races and leading his drivers into the Championship 4 in 2016 and 2019.
The 2020 season will mark Baxter’s first full-time season as crew chief in the Cup Series and his 35th season in a crew chief role across all three NASCAR national series.
While the addition of Baxter to the fold might not immediately turn things around for the No. 43 team, having a familiar face atop the pit box certainly won’t hurt. If past success is any indication, the duo of Baxter and Wallace being back together should help improve the team’s performance in 2020.
“During our time together, he trusted what I did as a crew chief, and trusted himself more and more, and we got better and better as we went,” Baxter said. “This is an incredible opportunity, and change is good. Having the confidence of Bubba and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports means a lot to me. I am excited about working with Bubba again, and the foundation Richard Petty Motorsports has in place with their group of guys.”