By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
No matter how much change occurs, some sponsorships stay the same. For the 10th consecutive year, Richard Petty Motorsports will have the colors of the United States Air Force adorn its’ No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. 2018 marks the 18th consecutive season of the U.S. Air Force’s involvement in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The U.S. Air Force will sponsor 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. July 4th weekend in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway and Veterans Day weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
As Air Force Recruiting Service Strategic Marketing Division chief, Timothy Hanson, says, they are ‘enlisting’ the help of Wallace,
“The Air Force is excited to partner with Richard Petty Motorsports once again and this year we are ‘enlisting’ a new driver, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. NASCAR and other motorsports align well with our target audience’s interests and the Air Force’s commitment to teamwork and technology.”
Wallace first drove the iconic No. 43 while substituting for Aric Almirola. In four starts he had two top-15 finishes, including a best finish of 11th at Kentucky Speedway. Wallace will be just the fourth driver to compete full-time in the No. 43 since the 2009 season, the first year of the current inception of RPM.
“The combination of Bubba Wallace and the iconic No. 43 provides a continuing sponsorship opportunity that reflects our Air Force core values and has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the U.S. Air Force, our people and our mission,” Hanson said. “Like NASCAR, much of our work is based on science, technology, engineering and math principles and this sponsorship is a great way to highlight that connection.”
The last time that a NASCAR stockcar adorned with the U.S. Air Force visited victory lane was Almirola in 2014. In a rain-delay and rain-shortened race, Almirola was in the right place, at the right time to take the lead, and the victory in the No. 43 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion for Richard Petty Motorsports. That win propelled the team into the 2014 Playoffs, which was their most recent chance for the Premier Series Championship.
“I’m proud to join the men and women of the Air Force and represent them on and off the track,” said Wallace. “I’m also really looking forward to meeting the next wave of Airmen and play my part to engage, inspire and bring awareness to the unique opportunities which lie within our United States Air Force. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with some Airmen and they are the best at what they do. I admire them for their service and the protections they provide our country.”
RPM, which recently announced a move to the Richard Childress Racing campus, a switch from Ford to Chevrolet, and a technical alliance with RCR is still looking for sponsorship. The two races from the U.S. Air Force gives RPM a total of seven of the 36-races currently filled, with STP (two races) and Click n’ Close (three races) taking the other five.
“The U.S. Air Force has been partners with us for a long time,” added Richard Petty, Co-Owner, Richard Petty Motorsports. “It’s a special partnership for us because we get to thank the men and women who protect our freedom each weekend, but also get to talk to new recruits about the Air Force and what opportunities they have. It’s been great for both of us.”
While they continue to search for more sponsorship, Petty, Wallace, and the entire No. 43 Chevrolet team will look for fly into victory lane.