The two Richard-led teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be allies in 2018. Richard Petty Motorsports, which has raced with Ford since the 2010 season, intends to switch to Chevrolet for the 2018 season, and form a partnership with Richard Childress Racing. While the news was reported by Sports Business Daily‘s Adam Stern on Thursday, rumors were as present as August, and no formal announcement from the team was made until Friday. Rookie of the Year contender Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive the #43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, a model that was newly introduced for 2018.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of success through our team partnerships over the past several seasons,” Childress stated. “To bring a storied organization like Richard Petty Motorsports on board as a partner is a win for each of our organizations.”
In late August, RPM announced it would be selling its Mooresville, North Carolina-based shop; the 78,824 sq. ft building is too large for a single-car operation like RPM, which scaled back from a two-car team following the 2016 season. Rumors eventually circulated about a potential manufacturer switch, one that was finally confirmed on Friday. As part of the new partnership with RCR, RPM will base its operations on RCR’s campus in Welcome, North Carolina.
RPM will also receive chassis and engineering support from RCR, along with engines from ECR Engines.
“This is our next chapter of Petty racing,” Petty said. “We need to provide Bubba (Wallace), Drew (Blickensderfer) and the rest of the team with the tools necessary to be successful on the track, and I feel strongly this is the best move for RPM, our partners and everyone involved with our team. Chevrolet has been a consistent winner in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for a long time and we’re proud to be a part of the GM family again. We feel we can immediately win with Chevrolet and our new association with RCR.”
The switch marks the first time RPM will race under a General Motors brand. After absorbing the assets of Evernham Motorsports, the team ran Dodges until it switched to Ford in 2010. RPM’s predecessor Petty Enterprises ran various GM manufacturers in its long history, including Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, and Chevy. Of Petty Enterprises’ 268 Cup Series wins, 16 have been with Oldsmobile, three with Buick, six with Pontiac, and six with Chevy. Petty’s 200th Cup Series victory at the 1984 Firecracker 400 was in a Pontiac, as was his first win as a car owner with Bobby Hamilton at the 1996 Dura Lube 500. Adam Petty, the late son of Richard’s brother Kyle, ran Petty Enterprises’ final Cup race with Chevrolet in his lone Cup start at the 2000 DirecTV 500.
Darrell Wallace Jr. will pilot the #43 after replacing Aric Almirola in the ride for the 2018 season. Although Wallace spent much of his Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series career in Toyota and Ford, respectively, he won his first K&N Pro Series East race and his most recent Truck Series race in Chevrolets.
“I’ve had some great memories with Chevrolet and I’m ready to make a lot more,” Wallace commented. “The entire RPM team is ready for 2018, and now we have a big piece of the puzzle put in place. We’re all eager to start preparing our No. 43 Camaro for 2018, working and creating new ideas with RCR. This is a new journey and we’re all ready to begin it.”
RPM’s first race with Chevrolet will be the 2018 Daytona 500 on February 18.
Featured image by Matthew O’Haren, USA Today Sports