Bubba Wallace is midway through the final season of his contract with Richard Petty Motorsports and will be a "free agent" at the end of the Cup Series season. RPM is trying to keep Wallace in the driver's seat of the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro and has offered a unique incentive. Wallace could have an ownership stake in the racing team.
Team owner Andrew Murstein confirmed the news to Forbes and said that he expects an agreement to be finalized "within the next couple of weeks." Wallace is part of a deep free agent pool of drivers that also includes 2012 Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola and Erik Jones. "We're in discussions with him about an extension that includes ownership in the team," said Murstein in the report.
NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider added further details to the story during Sunday's race at New Hampshire. He spoke to Wallace and said that the driver isn't making any final decisions just yet. Wallace said that he "has a lot of options on the table" and that he will listen to them all before deciding his future.
According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, one potential option for Wallace is Chip Ganassi Racing. The team currently has Kurt Busch driving the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro, but the No. 42 will need a new driver at the end of the season. The team previously fired Kyle Larson after he used a racial slur during a Twitch Livestream and temporarily replaced him with the retired Matt Kenseth. CGR and Wallace also share a common sponsor in McDonald's.
Along with CGR, Wallace could have other suitors with some of NASCAR's biggest teams. Jimmie Johnson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, will retire at the end of the season and leave a hole on the team. The team could search for someone to replace Johnson, but there is also a possibility that it will downsize from four cars to only three.
Murstein previously made the team's intentions clear in June. He said that RPM planned on keeping Wallace in the No. 43 for years to come and that the team was planning a contract extension. "Bubba in his own special way is a great ambassador for the sport," said Murstein. He has maintained this stance in the ensuing weeks and is now offering even more incentives for the young driver.
Wallace, 26, is currently in his third full-time season with RPM. He has not won a race with the No. 43 Chevrolet but has secured two top-five finishes. This includes second overall during the 2018 Daytona 500. He has seven finishes in the top-10 and a season-best sixth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.