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

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace has informed Richard Petty Motorsports that he will not return to the team for the 2021 season. 

RPM officials confirmed the move Thursday, while noting that Wallace will finish out this season behind the wheel of the iconic No. 43 Chevrolet.

Wallace, 26, was in his third full season with the Richard Petty team with a career-best five top-10 finishes. He currently ranks 23rd in the season points standings. 

"This was not an easy decision as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Richard Petty and his family," Wallace said in a Twitter post, "but I believe it's time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43."

Wallace, the only Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, was thrust into the national spotlight in June when a noose was found in his car's garage door at Talladega Superspeedway.

An FBI investigation later found that a hate crime had not been committed since the noose had been in the garage stall since the NASCAR series visited the track last October.

With his contract up at the end of the season, Wallace had reportedly talked with Petty officials about an extension that included a partial ownership stake.

Bubba Wallace stands beside his No. 43 car before the Sept. 6 NASCAR Cup Series race in Darlington, S.C. (Photo: Chris Carlson, AP)

However, he ultimately decided to test the free agent market.

“Thank you to the King and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to start my Cup Series career," he said. "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.”

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