Wallace to drive for Petty in 2018

Wallace to drive for Petty in 2018
November 02
07:00 2017


AP Auto Racing Writer

CHARLOTTE — Darrell Wallace Jr. will become the first black full-time driver at NASCAR’s top level since 1971 when he takes over Richard Petty’s iconic ride next season.

The 24-year-old Wallace, more commonly referred to by his nickname of “Bubba,” became the first black driver to race at NASCAR’s top level since 2006 when he replaced an injured Aric Almirola earlier this year.

At the time, Petty recalled, he wasn’t sure he wanted Wallace as a replacement.

“We went round and round when Aric got hurt about who we was going to put in the car,” Petty said Wednesday, Oct. 25. “Bubba had been running some races and stuff. He was bad about wrecking, I thought, so we had to have a little talk with him, say, `You know, just go out and finish the races and stuff.’”

In other words, race wasn’t an issue.

“That was the least of my considerations,” Petty said. “We looked at the talent. We looked at how we thought he handled the fans, how he handled the press, how he handled sponsor deals, all this kind of stuff. ‘’

Petty, a seven-time champion and Hall of Famer, recently made headlines for saying he would fire any Richard Petty Motorsport employee who kneeled during the national anthem. Such displays have become a familiar sight at NFL games as African-American players kneel to protest social injustices.

Wallace, an Alabama native and graduate of NASCAR’s diversity program, has tried not to make race part of his climb through the ranks.

He won the Truck Series race at Martinsville in 2013 to become the first black driver to win at a national NASCAR series event since Wendell Scott in 1963.

“There’s been a lot of people who have come up through the ranks and tried to carry on the legacy that Wendell Scott had laid down for us,” Wallace said. “For me to step in that realm and take on that role, there’s a lot of pressure.

“But we’re going to go out there and just continue to do what we do on and off the racetrack, that’s to represent the brand of myself and Richard Petty and his image the best way I can, continue to grow together.”

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