NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at 2020 season’s end

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at 2020 season’s end
NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace with racing legend and car No. 43 owner Richard Petty in the garage area before practice on Feb. 28, 2020, at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace will soon be a free agent.

The driver of the iconic No. 43 Chevrolet announced on social media on Thursday that he will not return to the Richard Petty Motorsports team for the 2021 season, multiple media outlets reported.

“This was not an easy decision as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Richard Petty and his family, but I believe it’s time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43,” Wallace tweeted Thursday afternoon.

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RPM confirmed the split but noted Wallace, 26, will finish the 2020 season, his third full season with the team that has netted a career-best five top-10 finishes, USA Today reported.

Despite that record and his current 23rd rank in the season point standings, Wallace has yet to win a NASCAR Cup Series race during his tenure driving for Petty, ESPN reported.

He has, however, inked multiple sponsorship deals that could follow him to his next racing home, including Door Dash, Columbia Sportswear Co., Cash App, and a personal deal with Beats by Dre, the sports news network reported.

Wallace, the series' only Black driver, captured national headlines in June when a crewmember found a noose in the driver’s Talladega Superspeedway garage. An FBI investigation later ruled out the pull rope’s presence as an overt hate crime, stating the noose had been in that garage stall since the previous October.

Wallace also told CNN that the sport should ban displays of the Confederate flag at all of its tracks, which NASCAR enacted two days later, noting the flag “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”

According to ESPN, Richard Petty Motorsports issued the following statement in response to Wallace’s departure:

“We look forward to the next chapter in the making for the iconic No. 43 team. We will announce our new driver in the future.”