Apparently, Bubba Wallace's audition earlier this year made a lasting impression.
Wallace filled in for the injured Aric Almirola in June and in four races, he improved his finish in each of those contests culminating with an 11th-place performance at the Kentucky Speedway on July 8.
On Wednesday, Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wallace will drive the famed #43 on a full-time basis in 2018.
Wallace initially came on the radar in 2013 with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville Speedway, becoming the first African-American driver in 50 years to win a NASCAR national touring series feature since NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott. The next season Wallace finished third overall in the truck series point standings with four wins for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Wallace moved up full-time to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing in 2015, where he earned 31 Top-10 finishes over the last three seasons before making his Cup debut in June with RPM.
“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.”
Car owner and iconic NASCAR figure Richard Petty is excited about having Wallace on board.
“We have hired a lot of different drivers in the past, but Wallace brings a lot of youth and talent to our team,” said 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 become the first full-time African-American driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since Scott.