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2019 team preview: Richard Petty Motorsports

Editor’s note: NASCAR.com continues its countdown of team previews for the Monster Energy Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings. Today’s feature: Richard Petty Motorsports and driver Bubba Wallace.

Richard Petty Motorsports

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

Engine: ECR Engines

Driver: Bubba Wallace, No. 43 

Crew chief: TBD

2018 standings: Wallace competed in his first full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and finished 28th in the standings. The No. 43 car was 30th in the owner standings.

What’s new: After a full season paired with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, Bubba Wallace will have a new partner atop the pit box in 2019.

Outlook: With a full season of experience under his belt, Wallace will undoubtedly have learned much to help him in his sophomore season. Problem is, he’ll have to adjust to a new crew chief, now. If he can meld quickly with the new partner, he might be able to work his way into contention in races.

DRIVER

Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet: Despite immense focus and anticipation for the only full-time African-American driver in the Cup Series, Wallace started 2018 with a bang — finishing second in the Daytona 500. He wept tears of joy and celebration after the race. “I’m competitive. I love to win. I hate to finish second, and obviously that shows for everybody, but I’m human,” he said. “No matter if I race cars for a living and enjoy doing it, at the end of the day, we all get emotional about something.”

It would end up being the 25-year-old’s best finish of the season, but his up-and-down season showed definite signs of growth. Wallace forged a jovial mentorship relationship with boss Richard Petty — despite a 56-year age difference. He took a some big hits throughout the season, including one at Pocono, and struggled at the Charlotte road course, but also showed signs of promise at restrictor-plate tracks and at Bristol. In all, he led a total of 19 laps and had an average finish of 24.5, with standout performances at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway (finishing 10th) in November, Texas in April (eighth) and two top-20 finishes at Talladega (16th and 19th).

TEAM PREVIEWS
Jan. 22: Assorted teams
Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 24: Germain Racing
Jan. 25: Leavine Family Racing
Jan 28: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
Feb. 1: Richard Childress Racing
Feb. 4: Chip Ganasssi Racing
Feb. 5: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 6: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 7: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 8: Team Penske