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Roush Fenway Racing

Darrell Wallace Jr. to drive for Richard Petty in 2018

Darrell Wallace Jr. will become the first black full-time driver at NASCAR's top level since 1971 when he takes over Richard Petty's iconic ride next season.

The 24-year-old Wallace, more commonly referred to by his nickname of "Bubba," became the first black driver to race at NASCAR's top level since 2006 when he replaced an injured Aric Almirola earlier this year. At the time, Petty recalled, he wasn't sure he wanted Wallace as a replacement.

"We went round and round when Aric got hurt about who we was going to put in the car," Petty said Wednesday. "Bubba had been running some races and stuff. He was bad about wrecking, I thought, so we had to...