Richard Petty Motorsports confirmed a rumored partnership on Wednesday, announcing that Erik Jones will replace Bubba Wallace once the 2020 season comes to an end. Wallace is joining a new team started by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, but he won't forget the group that brought him to the Cup Series. He reacted to the news by sending a message to Jones and RPM.
"Congrats [Richard Petty Motorsports] and [Erik Jones]! Great choice to keep the needle moving! Awesome people to be around at track and away! Gonna miss the stories/arguments between RP and Dale [Earnhardt]!! [crying laughing emoji] Have fun! [fist bump, rock on emoji]," Wallace tweeted on Wednesday morning. Jones responded by thanking Wallace and saying that he is looking forward to growing with his new team. He also teased some stories of his own about "The King," Richard Petty arguing with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported on Monday that RPM and Jones were deep in talks to finalize a deal for the 2021 season. The 24-year-old driver was heading toward the end of the current year without a defined ride due to Joe Gibbs Racing announcing that he would not return to the team. Moving to RPM allows him to continue his racing career in NASCAR's top series.
"It is an incredible honor to have Richard Petty want you to drive for his race team and with the car number he made famous," Jones said in a press release. "Richard Petty Motorsports has a rich history in the sport, but they are not resting on that history. They still have something to prove, and I have something to prove. We are both motivated to write a new chapter. I am proud to be a part of Richard Petty Motorsports."
The soon-to-be-former Joe Gibbs Racing driver in Jones has found success throughout his professional racing career. He became the first driver in NASCAR history to win Rookie of the Year honors in all three series. Jones also became the youngest driver to win the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship, doing so in 2015. In 2016, he won four races and finished fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship driver points standings.
Moving forward, Jones will strive to bring a similar level of success to a new team while getting behind the wheel of an iconic car. He will do so while reuniting with crew chief Jerry Baxter, who will remain with the No. 43 team following Wallace's departure. Jones and Baxter previously spent three seasons together with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.