Richard Petty and Darrell Wallace Jr. did not officially announce plans for the No. 43 team next season, but both indicated Tuesday they would be remaining together.
“Yeah, Bubba will be with us again next year,” said Petty at the NASCAR Hall of Fame after unveiling Wallace’s throwback car for Darlington (pictured below). “From the standpoint that he’s still learning — he’s a rookie, a lot of these tracks he’s never been to, and we got a new car with Chevrolet.
“So, we’re trying to learn the driver and the car, and all of us [are] trying to learn together. It’s been a real learning process. Right now, we’re too slow learning. We got to speed that up.”
Wallace was tabbed by the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion and his iconic organization as a replacement for Aric Almirola, who had been a constant with the team for many years. Having impressed during a substitution stint in the car last summer, Wallace is getting his full-time Cup Series. He is competing for Rookie of the Year honors. The organization made bold changes looking to improve its standing by aligning with Richard Childress Racing (and moving onto the RCR campus) as well as swapping from Ford to Chevrolet.
“We’re working on that right now,” Wallace said of his contract and 2019 plans. “It’s a positive look for us — we just started this deal, and we formed this relationship back as soon as I stepped foot on the grounds for Pocono last year. So we’re in a good spot for sure. We’re still working on all the details, but I’m excited to be where I’m at right now.”
Midway through the year, Wallace and crew chief Drew Blickensderfer have the team sitting 24th in points. Highlights for Wallace include his impressive and well-documented runner-up finish in the Daytona 500, a top 10 at Texas and driving past Brad Keselowski for the lead at Bristol.
On the flip side, Wallace has just those two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 22nd. Wallace finished 24th last weekend at New Hampshire and was 38th at Pocono earlier this year, where the series returns this weekend.
In looking to keep Wallace in the fold, Petty said it was both for continuity and for the team to continue building.
“We feel like it’s going to take a little while to make it gel,” said Petty. “Hardly ever any team comes in and does really good, to begin with, it takes two or three years for everybody to sort settle in. Hopefully, we get settled in so we’re ready for next year.”