By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
The famed No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports will have a new face behind the wheel full-time in 2018: Darrell Wallace, Jr.
After impressing the team in the four races he ran while filling in for the injured Aric Almirola earlier this year, RPM announced that Wallace will get his shot to run full-time for the team beginning in 2018.
“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,” said Wallace. “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 began the 2017 season in the Xfinity Series for Roush-Fenway Racing, but a sponsorship shortfall caused his season to come to a premature end after just 12 races. After Almirola was injured at Kansas in May, Wallace got the call to fill-in for him while he recovered.
In the four races he ran the famed No. 43 car, Wallace posted better finishes as the weeks went along, culminating in an 11th place finish at Kentucky before Almirola returned to the seat.
Career-wise, Wallace has found the most success in the Truck Series, where he scored six wins over three seasons, most recently at Michigan in early August. In his 85 starts in the Xfinity Series, he has yet to visit victory lane, but did finish in the top-five six times, along with 35 top-10 finishes and two poles.
“We have hired a lot of different drivers in the past, but Wallace brings a lot of youth and talent to our team,” said team owner Richard Petty. “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. He knows how to win, too. His records leading up to the top levels of NASCAR speak for themselves. We feel that Bubba can immediately come in and compete. He’s really eager to show what he can do and that he belongs in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”
Wallace will have veteran crew chief Drew Blickensderfer staying on board with the team next season, while the other partners for the team will be announced at a later date.