Bubba Wallace Not Returning to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021

Bubba Wallace just made a surprising move for the 2021 NASCAR season. The 26-year-old NASCAR driver went to social media to announce he's leaving Richard Petty Motorsports and will no longer drive its No. 43 car. He didn't reveal the reason but thanked the team for the opportunity to start his Cup Series career.

"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 (sic) of the No. 43," Wallace wrote. "Thank you to the King and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to star my Cup Series career. I've grown so much as a driver and as a person since joining them. We've got nine more races together, and I hope we can finish the 2020 season on a high note."

The news was first reported by The Athletic. On Thursday afternoon, RPM officials released a statement. "Earlier this morning, Darrell 'Bubba' Wallace Jr., informed Richard Petty Motorsports he will not be returning for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season," RPM said as reported by NASCAR.com. "We will complete the season with Wallace behind the wheel of the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. We look forward to the next chapter in the making for the iconic No. 43 team. We will announce our new driver in the near future."

It's an interesting move for Wallace considering it was reported that RPM offered the driver a partial ownership stake in the team during contract negotiations. However, team owner Andrew Murstein said other drivers expressed interest in driving the No. 43 car. "We have been approached recently by three other drivers inquiring about the No. 43 ride," Murstein said, per Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal.

Wallace is looking to finish the season strong as he failed to qualify for the playoffs. However, he made big headlines throughout the year as he was outspoken with the racial and social issues going on in the country. Back in June, Wallace received national attention when he said he wanted Confederate flags banned at races, and NASCAR agreed with him. Later in the month, an apparent noose was found at Wallace's garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway, but it turned out Wallace wasn't a target of a hate crime.