Saying “it’s time for someone else to take over the reins” of the No. 43 Chevrolet, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace announced Thursday that he’s leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the 2020 stock-car season.

Wallace, 26, has raced for the team co-owned by stock-car legend Richard Petty since his Cup Series debut on a part-time basis in 2017. He’s finished 28th place in the points race in both of his seasons as a full-time driver and – boasting a career-best five top 10 finishes – currently sits in 23rd place this season with nine races left.

The only Black driver in NASCAR’s top level, Wallace has been an advocate of social justice issues this year amid the nationwide protests that followed the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others. He called on NASCAR to ban the use of the Confederate flag by fans at its races, which the company did in June.

As his team was preparing to race at Talladega Superspeedway in late June, a door pull shaped like a noose was discovered hanging in Wallace’s garage stall. After widespread condemnation and a show of support for Wallace from the other NASCAR drivers, both NASCAR and the FBI determined that the door-pull noose had been in the stall for at least eight months, though no one could figure out why it had remained there or how Wallace had been assigned that particular stall.

In early August, Richard Petty Motorsports co-owner Andrew Murstein said the team had been in discussions with Wallace – a free agent after this season – about an extension that included a partial ownership stake in the team and hoped to have the deal finalized “within the next couple of weeks.” But Wallace told NBC Sports that he had “a lot of options on the table.” According to Sports Business Journal, one could be Chip Ganassi Racing, which has an open seat for 2021 after firing Kyle Larson for using a racial slur. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola sponsor the Ganassi team and also work with Wallace.

“We look forward to the next chapter in the making for the iconic No. 43 team,” Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement Thursday. “We will announce our new driver in the near future.”


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