NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Darrell Wallace Jr. will become the first black driver to race at NASCAR’s top level since 2006 when he replaces an injured Aric Almirola this weekend at Pocono Raceway.
Richard Petty Motorsports says Wallace, more commonly referred to by his nickname “Bubba,” will be the replacement in the No. 43 until Almirola returns.
“Driving the famed 43 car is an unbelievable opportunity for any race car driver,” said Wallace. “With all that Richard Petty has contributed to the sport, I’m honored to start my first (race) with this team.”
Wallace is only the fourth black driver in one of NASCAR’s top national series. Scott raced from 1961-73 in Cup, Willy T. Ribbs did three Cup races in 1986 and Bill Lester raced sporadically from 1999 until 2007 at all three national levels. Wallace won the Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2013 to become the first black driver to win at a national NASCAR series event since Wendell Scott earned a Cup victory on December 1, 1963.
Wallace posted a message on social media along with a picture standing next to his new ride.
A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:39pm PDT on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:39pm PDT
Wallace races in the Xfinity Series for Roush Fenway Racing, but the team announced that he will transition from its Xfinity car to RPM.
Without Wallace, Roush Fenway will suspend the No. 6 Xfinity team at Pocono. The team and Wallace will evaluate opportunities for him to run other Xfinity races this season.
Almirola fractured a vertebra during a fiery wreck last month at Kansas Speedway. He’s sidelined indefinitely. Almirola and Wallace both drive Fords.
“We are excited for Bubba to get this opportunity,” said Dave Prick, global director for 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.”
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