Darrell Wallace Jr. the start of a ‘completely different’ Richard Petty Motorsports

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There are still a lot of blanks to be filled for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2018.

It’s not known what manufacturer logo will adorn the front of its famous No. 43 car when it’s unloaded for Darrell Wallace Jr. in February at Daytona International Speedway to begin his rookie Cup season.

In a Wednesday teleconference, Petty also gave no firm answer on a possible new technical alliance for the team.

On top of that, the team is still looking for a new home to replace the 80,000 square foot shop it’s vacating at the end of the year.

“All that stuff is still up in the air,” Petty said. “We’re doing one thing at a time. We decided just to go ahead and get Bubba all signed up, get that behind us, so that we can then sit down and say, ‘Okay, what is our next best move?’ Bubba will be involved in that part of it, too, because he’s going to be a big, big part of RPM for the coming years.”

There’s “a bunch of irons in the fire” for the team co-owned by the seven-time Cup champion, but “The King” proclaimed his organization is eager for all the changes.

“When you see us at Daytona … it’s going to be a completely different RPM than what it’s been in the past,” Petty said. “We’re looking forward to that.”

It all starts with Wallace. The 24-year-old driver will become to newest full-time pilot of the No. 43, replacing Aric Almirola, who has driven it since 2012 and won the 2014 Coke Zero 400.

RPM hired Wallace based off his four-race performance as a substitute for an injured Almirola this year. Wallace joins the team after three years with Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series.

“He really impressed me,” Petty said. “After seeing him operate with our crew chief and all the guys at the shop, with the sponsors and stuff like that, we want to have a whole new look at Richard Petty Motorsports for 2018 anyway. So we said, Let’s just look at Bubba and see if we can put him in the car. … A new page in the Petty deal.”

The new page is significant not just for RPM, but for NASCAR. Wallace will be the first full-time African-American Cup driver in NASCAR’s modern era, which began in 1972. He follows the likes of NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott, Bill Lester, Willy T. Ribbs, Charlie Scott, Elias Bowie, Randy Bethea and George Wiltshire. 

But Petty, who raced against Scott, said the color of Wallace’s skin was “the least of my considerations” when determining who would inherit the number he made famous.

“We looked at the talent,” Petty said. “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. I didn’t care what color he was, where he come from, any of that.

“If you look back at the Petty history and stuff, we’ve had a driver from Brazil (Christian Fittipaldi) that drove for us for awhile, one from Mexico (Carlos Contreras) that drove (a season in the Camping World Truck Series) for us. It’s not anything different than what we’ve done before.”

Wallace also succeeds Almirola, who is of Cuban decent. From 2011-14 Marcos Ambrose, a native of Tasmania, drove the No. 9 for RPM.

Wallace will be one of the latest additions to rapidly growing youth movement in the Cup Series. He will race against drivers and friends he came up through the ranks with since before his days in the K&N Pro Series East series. He joins fellow young guns Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones and more.

“This is a sport that a lot is based on patience,” Wallace said. “Everybody has different ways of getting to the level that I can now say that I’m at. It’s pretty special to be here. … We were all 10, 11, 12 years old running against each other here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, beating and banging with each other. Now we’re at the top-level. Each and every one of us have a different story of how we’ve gotten there.

“I’m just glad to share that spotlight with them.”

Wallace is also a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which produced Larson, who is Asian-American, and Daniel Suarez, who is from Monterrey, Mexico. Suarez became the first foreign-born driver to win a national NASCAR title last year in the Xfinity Series.

“We all have special, unique talent,” Wallace said. “It comes in many different shapes and sizes and forms. Myself, Suarez come up through there, it’s pretty special to see how that has made us who we are today. I’m excited for that, excited to be racing with those guys. We’ve been doing it for a long time now, but now we can all say we’re at the Cup level.”

Wallace’s place in the youth movement and the evolution of the sport was a prominent factor for Petty in giving him the keys to the company car when the company has a lot of question marks with its future.

“It’s ready for a change,” Petty said of NASCAR’s current landscape. “We wanted to be involved in that part of it, felt like that Bubba was going to be our best bet to be right up to the cutting edge of what’s going on.”

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Truck Series playoffs expands to 10 teams

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The playoffs for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will expand from eight to 10 drivers in 2020, NASCAR announced Tuesday.

Two teams will be eliminated after the first round and four eliminated after second round.

How each round of the playoffs will unfold:

Round of 10: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Bristol Motor Speedway

Round of 8: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway

Championship 4: Phoenix Raceway

“Expanding the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoff field to 10 is a win-win for drivers, teams and, most importantly, the passionate fans who support our Gander Trucks,” Truck Series Managing Director Brad Moran said in a statement from NASCAR. “This will only increase the competitive intensity this series offers, as more drivers and teams vie for one of the most coveted championships in all of racing.”

Had there been 10 drivers allowed in last year’s playoffs, ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes and Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Harrison Burton would have gotten those spots. KBM did not have any drivers in the playoffs.

The first two races of the playoffs, at Gateway and Canada, will feature the new pit road rules for standalone races in the Truck and Xfinity Series.

Reports: Daniel Suarez to drive for Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Multiple reports state that Daniel Suarez will drive the No. 96 Cup car for Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020.

The team has not made any an announcement.

Toby Christie reported Friday at tobychristie.com that a deal was done for Suarez to drive the full Cup season for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Motorsport.com reported Monday that Suarez would join Gaunt Brothers Racing for the full season.

Suarez would replace Parker Kligerman, who confirmed to NBC Sports on Friday that he would not return to the No. 96 car this season.

This would be the fourth Cup season for Suarez. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017-18 before being replaced by Martin Truex Jr. Suarez moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019 and was replaced after the season by rookie Cole Custer.

Suarez continues to seek his first Cup win. He has eight top-five and 32 top-10 finishes in 108 Cup starts. He won the 2016 Xfinity title, a year after winning rookie of the year honors in that series.

Gaunt Brothers Racing debuted in 2017, running one race with D.J. Kennington. The team ran 22 races the following year between Kligerman, D.J. KenningtonJeffrey Earnhardt and Jesse Little. The team ran 15 races last year with Drew Herring running once along with Kligerman’s 14 starts.

HighPoint to sponsor Chase Briscoe in multiple Xfinity Series races

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Chase Briscoe will have a new sponsor in 2020 in HighPoint.com, a customer service and technology solutions company, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Tuesday.

Briscoe, who returns for a second full-time Xfinity Series season with SHR, will have HighPoint as a primary sponsor on his No. 98 Ford for 10 races. The Sparta, New Jersey-based company will make its debut with the Feb. 15 season opener at Daytona.

For all other races, HighPoint will be an associate sponsor.

“Even though we race stock cars, there’s nothing stock about what we do,” Briscoe said in a press release. “The science of our cars is impressive, but the technology that goes into building our Ford Mustangs and then making them perform is even more advanced. Our IT needs are pretty complex, and we demand a lot from our technology every day, whether it’s at the shop or at the track. HighPoint is more than just a sponsor – they’re a partner that helps us perform.”

As part of the deal, HighPoint will be the team’s official IT solutions provider.

“Walk around our race shop during the week and the garage area on a race weekend and you’ll see how our race cars and our entire industry relies on technology,” Mike Verlander, SHR’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “From engine diagnostics to fuel-mileage calculations, our business is dependent on service and technology solutions. Every company needs what HighPoint provides, and we’ll work diligently to facilitate those introductions.”

2020 Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series schedules

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We’re less than a month away from the start of the 2020 NASCAR season.

While the Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 16, the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season begins in 25 days at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 14.

The schedules for all three national series have big changes in 2020.

Here are some of the changes, including:

  • Miami moves from the end of the season to March 22 for the Cup Series
  • The first Cup race under the lights at Martinsville Speedway (May 9)
  • The first weekend doubleheader for Cup, which occurs at Pocono (June 27-28)
  • The Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis will be held July 5. On July 4, the Xfinity Series race will be held on IMS’ road course.
  • Daytona International Speedway’s summer race shifts to August 29 and will be the final Cup race of the regular season.
  • The Xfinity Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for the first time since 2006 on Oct. 31.
  • The Truck Series returns to Richmond Raceway for the first time since 2005 on April 18.
  • Darlington Raceway hosts the opening race of the Cup playoffs on September 6.

And there’ll be a new site for the championship races for all three series — Phoenix Raceway from Nov. 6-8.

NBC will air Cup races at Indianapolis (July 5), Daytona (Aug. 29), Talladega (Oct. 4), Charlotte Roval (Oct. 11), Kansas (Oct. 18), Martinsville (Nov. 1) and Phoenix (Nov. 8).

Here’s how the schedules for all three series look for 2020:

2020 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Sun., Feb. 9 Daytona 500 Qualifying FOX 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Feb. 9 Busch Clash at Daytona FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Feb. 13 Gander RV Duel at Daytona FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Feb. 16 Daytona 500 FOX 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Feb. 23 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 1 Auto Club Speedway FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 8 Phoenix Raceway FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 15 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 22 Homestead-Miami Speedway FOX 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 29 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Apr. 5 Bristol Motor Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Apr. 19 Richmond Raceway FOX 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Apr. 26 Talladega Superspeedway FOX 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., May 3 Dover International Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 9 Martinsville Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 16 All-Star Open FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 16 All-Star Race FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., May 24 Charlotte Motor Speedway FOX 6:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., May 31 Kansas Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 7 Michigan International Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 14 Sonoma Raceway FS1 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 21 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 27 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 28 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jul. 5 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBC 3:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Sat., Jul. 11 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jul. 19 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Aug. 9 Michigan International Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Aug. 16 Watkins Glen International NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Aug. 23 Dover International Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 29 Daytona International Speedway NBC 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Sept. 6 Darlington Raceway NBCSN 6:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 12 Richmond Raceway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 19 Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Sept. 27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 4 Talladega Superspeedway NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 11 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBC 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 18 Kansas Speedway NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 25 Texas Motor Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Nov. 1 Martinsville Speedway NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Nov. 8 Phoenix Raceway NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

 

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Sat., Feb. 15 Daytona International Speedway FS1 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Feb. 22 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FS1 4:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Feb. 29 Auto Club Speedway FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 7 Phoenix Raceway FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 14 Atlanta Motor Speedway FS1 4:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 21 Homestead-Miami Speedway FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 28 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Apr. 4 Bristol Motor Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Apr. 25 Talladega Superspeedway FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 2 Dover International Speedway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 23 Charlotte Motor Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 30 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 6 Michigan International Speedway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 13 Iowa Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 20 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 28 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jul. 4 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBC 1:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Fri., Jul. 10 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jul. 18 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 1 Iowa Speedway CNBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 8 Road America CNBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 15 Watkins Glen International NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 22 Dover International Speedway NBCSN 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Aug. 28 Daytona International Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 5 Darlington Raceway NBC 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Sept. 11 Richmond Raceway NBCSN 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Sept. 18 Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 26 Las Vegas Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 10 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBC 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 17 Kansas Speedway NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 24 Texas Motor Speedway NBC 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 31 Martinsville Speedway NBCSN 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Nov. 7 Phoenix Raceway NBCSN 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Tim Radio
Fri., Feb. 14 Daytona International Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Feb. 21 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 14 Atlanta Motor Speedway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Mar. 20 Homestead-Miami Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Mar. 27 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Apr. 18 Richmond Raceway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., May 1 Dover International Speedway FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., May 15 Charlotte Motor Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 30 Kansas Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Jun. 5 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Jun. 12 Iowa Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Jun. 19 Chicagoland Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 27 Pocono Raceway FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Jul. 9 Kentucky Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Jul. 30 Eldora Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 8 Michigan International Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Aug. 21 World Wide Technology Raceway

at Gateway

FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Sept. 6 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park FS1 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Sept. 17 Bristol Motor Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Sept. 25 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 3 Talladega Superspeedway FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Oct. 30 Martinsville Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Nov. 6 Phoenix Raceway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM