Editor’s note: NASCAR.com continues its countdown of team previews for the Monster Energy Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings. Today’s feature: Richard Petty Motorsports and driver Bubba Wallace.
Richard Petty Motorsports
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver: Bubba Wallace, No. 43
Crew chief: TBD
2018 standings: Wallace competed in his first full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and finished 28th in the standings. The No. 43 car was 30th in the owner standings.
What’s new: After a full season paired with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, Bubba Wallace will have a new partner atop the pit box in 2019.
Outlook: With a full season of experience under his belt, Wallace will undoubtedly have learned much to help him in his sophomore season. Problem is, he’ll have to adjust to a new crew chief, now. If he can meld quickly with the new partner, he might be able to work his way into contention in races.
Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet: Despite immense focus and anticipation for the only full-time African-American driver in the Cup Series, Wallace started 2018 with a bang — finishing second in the Daytona 500. He wept tears of joy and celebration after the race. “I’m competitive. I love to win. I hate to finish second, and obviously that shows for everybody, but I’m human,” he said. “No matter if I race cars for a living and enjoy doing it, at the end of the day, we all get emotional about something.”
It would end up being the 25-year-old’s best finish of the season, but his up-and-down season showed definite signs of growth. Wallace forged a jovial mentorship relationship with boss Richard Petty — despite a 56-year age difference. He took a some big hits throughout the season, including one at Pocono, and struggled at the Charlotte road course, but also showed signs of promise at restrictor-plate tracks and at Bristol. In all, he led a total of 19 laps and had an average finish of 24.5, with standout performances at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway (finishing 10th) in November, Texas in April (eighth) and two top-20 finishes at Talladega (16th and 19th).
• Jan. 22: Assorted teams
• Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
• Jan. 24: Germain Racing
• Jan. 25: Leavine Family Racing
• Jan 28: Front Row Motorsports
• Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
• Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
• Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
• Feb. 1: Richard Childress Racing
• Feb. 4: Chip Ganasssi Racing
• Feb. 5: Hendrick Motorsports
• Feb. 6: Joe Gibbs Racing
• Feb. 7: Stewart-Haas Racing
• Feb. 8: Team Penske