Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. will be behind the wheel of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford substituting for the injured Aric Almirola starting with this week’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway the team announced Monday.
As a result of his move to the Cup series for Petty, his current team Roush-Fenway Racing will suspended its Xfinity No. 6 team that Wallace has competed full time with. Wallace has driven for Roush Fenway in the NXS for the past two and a half seasons, scoring a career-high finish of second at Dover last spring.
Wallace, a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and inaugural member of NASCAR Next, brings five years of NASCAR experience in both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series and has been a member of the Ford Performance team since 2015.
Sunday will mark his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut.
“Driving the famed 43 car is an unbelievable opportunity for any race car driver,” said the 23-year-old Wallace. “With all that Richard Petty has contributed to the sport, I’m honored to start my first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event with this team. I’m incredibly grateful that Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports and Smithfield have the confidence in me to help fill the seat until Aric (Almirola) fully recovers, which is the most important piece of this. Moving up to the Monster Energy Series is a tremendous challenge, but I am ready to represent this organization, help the 43 team get the best results possible and prove that I belong at this level.”
Wallace has five wins, 20 Top Fives, 60 Top 10s and five Pole awards in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.
Almirola was injured in a crash at Kansas Speedway. He suffered an acute compression fracture to his T5 Vertebra and is currently recovering from the injury which has a standard healing time of eight to 12 weeks. Regan Smith substituted in the No. 43 at Charlotte and last week at Dover.
Richard Petty Motorsports has partnered with Ford Performance and Roush Fenway Racing since 2010, and now are teaming up once again during Almirola’s absence.
“We’re excited to have Bubba in the No. 43 car and to give him his first Monster Energy Series start,” said Brian Moffitt, CEO Richard Petty Motorsports. “He has shown success in NASCAR’s national series and we look forward to him continuing to display his abilities in our car. We’re fortunate to have someone with Bubba’s potential in the Ford Performance family who can step in for us until Aric is healed.”
“We are excited for Bubba to get this opportunity to drive the iconic No. 43 Fusion for Richard Petty Motorsports,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “We couldn’t be happier with the progress of Aric Almirola’s recovery and can’t wait to get him back. In the meantime, this is a great opportunity for Bubba to show what he can do at the top level of the sport, and we are committed to helping RPM win races. We are proud of the collaboration between RPM, Roush Fenway and Ford to make this driver transition happen, and it’s a great example of the One Ford mentality we have in order to make the overall Ford NASCAR program better.”
Wallace will jump in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford this weekend at Pocono Raceway starting with practice on Friday morning. He will have three practice sessions and qualifying to work with the team to get the car ready for the Pocono 400 Sunday, June 11.
Roush Fenway said they and Wallace will continue to evaluate additional potential opportunities for Wallace to run in NXS races.
“We are very proud of Bubba and his development at Roush Fenway Racing,” said team president Steve Newmark. “We believe that Bubba has tremendous potential and will continue to excel in NASCAR’s top series. He has been a great representative of our organization both on and off the track and we’ve enjoyed being part of his growth as a driver. Our entire team is excited to see him take the next step in his career and make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the No. 43.
“The transition shows the strong collaboration we currently have in the Ford stable,” added Newmark. “We believe this will be a great opportunity for both Bubba and RPM, and will continue to strengthen the overall Ford program.”