Bubba Wallace will drive No. 43 for Richard Petty through 2020

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Richard Petty Motorsports exercised a two-year option on its contract with Bubba Wallace, keeping the Cup Series rookie in the iconic No. 43.

“We hired him at the beginning of the season, and we like little bit of what he’s doing, so I think we’ll hire him again for next season,” co-team owner Richard Petty joked with reporters in making the announcement Saturday morning at Pocono Raceway. “It gives us some stability. We’re still learning Bubba; Bubba’s still learning us. We see improvements even though a lot of times the finishes aren’t that much better.”

Wallace finished runner-up in the season-opening Daytona 500 but has only one top 10 in 19 races since then (an eighth at Texas Motor Speedway in April). He is ranked 24th in the points standings.

Wallace, 24, said it was a two-year extension through the 2020 season.

“It’s exciting for me,” Wallace said. “Our announcements are usually December, January or the week of Daytona. This is pretty nice. Definitely a stress reliever knowing we have a certain future ahead of us.”

He was signed by RPM last November after a successful four-race stint filling in for an injured Aric Almirola last season.

Wallace has six victories in the Camping World Truck Series.

Here’s the release from the team:

WELCOME, N.C. (July 28, 2018) – Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) is pleased to officially announce that it has picked up the option to extend Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. as the driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in a multiyear agreement. The confirmation was made today by NASCAR Hall of Famer and team co-owner, “The King” Richard Petty at the Pocono Raceway. Wallace, 24, is currently in his first full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and is contending for the Sunoco Rookie of The Year award.

Wallace Jr. burst onto the Cup scene during this year’s Daytona 500, finishing second and making national headlines. He later scored a Top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway and then raced the iconic No. 43 STP Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to the front at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has also earned numerous Sunoco Rookie of the Race awards throughout the season and has led laps at Bristol, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Off the track, Wallace Jr. has proven to be one of the fastest-rising stars not only in NASCAR, but in all of sports. Social media leader, Facebook, began the year following Wallace Jr. leading up to his first Daytona 500 start. The “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace” Facebook Watch digital docuseries propelled Wallace Jr. into the mainstream media with over five million views. Recently, Wallace Jr. was named as one of the top 50 Most Influential People in Sports Culture by Bleacher Report.

“Our highs have been well documented and so have our lows,” said Wallace Jr. “It’s all a part of growing together as a team with a new alliance, a new shop, a new manufacturer, a new car and being a rookie driver. It’s a wild ride and I’m thankful to the Petty family for allowing me to be on it. Richard is competitive, and I think about winning in the ’43’ all the time. We both want the same thing and we’re building that. Today, allows us to get this confirmed and continue to focus on the future.”

Last season, Wallace Jr. made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the No. 43 in June and competed in four total races. He was named the full-time driver at the end of the 2017 season. A graduate of both NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, Wallace Jr. has broken several barriers and records throughout his rise within the sport.

Wallace Jr. initially rose to prominence in 2013 with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, becoming the first African-American driver in 50 years to win a NASCAR national touring series feature since NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott. The next season Wallace Jr. finished third overall in the truck series point standings with four wins for Kyle Busch Motorsports before moving up full-time to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing in 2015, where he earned 31 top-10 finishes over three seasons.

“We have faith in Bubba and in our team that we’ll continue to get better, together,” said Petty. “This confirmation allows our partners to start building for next season and beyond. It also allows the different companies that we’re talking to now know that we’re very serious about building our future with Bubba as our driver.”

Wallace will compete Sunday in the Gander Outdoors 400 at the Pocono Raceway.

Starting lineup for Talladega Cup race: Christopher Bell wins pole

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Six playoff drivers will start in the top 10 for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Christopher Bell won the pole for the race Saturday with a speed of 180.591 miles per hour. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.

MORE: Talladega Cup starting lineup

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

Playoff drivers starting in the top 10 are Bell, Larson, Hamlin, Briscoe, Ross Chastain (sixth) and William Byron (ninth).

Noah Gragson, who qualified seventh, is replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms.

Ryan Blaney, starting 19th, is the lowest playoff driver on the starting grid.

 

Christopher Bell wins Cup Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway

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Playoff driver Christopher Bell won the pole position Saturday for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Bell, 11th in the playoff standings and below the cutline entering Sunday’s race, ran 180.591 mph to edge second-place Kyle Larson at 180.516.

Playoff drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots.

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

The race is the second in the second round of the playoffs. Any playoff driver who wins the race will automatically advance to the next round.

Joey Logano leads the playoff standings.

Noah Gragson, replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms, qualified seventh.

The race (2 p.m., ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

 

 

Sunday Talladega Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

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Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)