Bubba Wallace is taking the next step in his NASCAR Cup career—but it won’t be with Richard Petty Motorsports.
In his third full season in the No. 43 Chevrolet, Wallace informed the team on Thursday morning that he would not return in 2020. The 27-year-old from Mobile, Ala., started his Cup career with RPM in 2017 after filling in for the injured Aric Almirola.
RPM released the following statement: “Earlier this morning, Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., informed Richard Petty Motorsports he will not be returning for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season. We will complete the season with Wallace behind the wheel of the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
“We look forward to the next chapter in the making for the iconic No. 43 team. We will announce our new driver in the near future.”
Wallace took to Twitter to announce his plans: "This was not an easy decision as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Richard Petty and his family, but I believe it's time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43. Thank you to the King and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to start my Cup career. I've grown so much as a driver and as a person since joining them. We've got nine more races together and I hope we can finish the 2020 season on a high note."
In 103 starts, Wallace has three top fives and nine top 10s. His best career finish was second in the 2018 Daytona 500. Wallace’s top result this season was fifth at Daytona last month.
Prior to the Coke Zero Sugar 400, Wallace said his relationship with RPM felt like family.
“To this day, I feel like family; and that’s been very important to me,” Wallace said. “It’s easy to kind of get caught-up in just being a driver and showing up at the race track and getting the job done and going home and it’s kind of a wash and repeat. And here, it’s family. It’s being in contact with everybody and part of the team. It’s obviously being close with Richard (Petty). You have that family aspect.
“That goes along with that I’m a family guy. I love my family here, so to have that feel is definitely important. And, obviously, you want to be competitive. I came into this sport wanting to win races and be a household name on the track, so we have a lot of work to do as a team and together, to get there. So again, we’re figuring out all our options and figure out the best solution for both of us to go out and be competitive on the race track.”
Apparently, the desire to be competitive won out over the sense of family Wallace felt at RPM.
Wallace has been rumored to be heading to Ganassi Racing, where Kyle Larson left a void in the No. 42 Chevy following his dismissal in April. Wallace already has a working relationship with McDonald’s through one of its franchisee programs—and Ganassi would love to retain the support of the restaurant chain.