As free agency looms, Bubba Wallace is offered an ownership stake to stay at Richard Petty Motorsports

Nick Bromberg
·3 min read
TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - JUNE 22: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, and NASCAR Hall of Famer and team owner Richard Petty look on after NASCAR drivers pushed Wallace to the front of the grid as a sign of solidarity with the driver prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. A noose was found in the garage stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway a week after the organization banned the Confederate flag at its facilities. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty at Talladega in June. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

If Bubba Wallace stays at Richard Petty Motorsports, he could be a part owner of the team.

Team majority owner Andrew Murstein told Forbes that the team had offered an ownership stake in the No. 43 car to Wallace as a way to try to keep him at the team in 2021 and beyond. Wallace, who is set to be a free agent at the end of the season, confirmed the offer to NBC Sports on Sunday according to pit reporter Marty Snider.

Wallace is the only Black driver racing full-time in NASCAR. He has emerged as a mainstream name in 2020 thanks to his social justice activism, NASCAR’s ban of the Confederate flag and the discovery of a noose knot tied in his garage stall door rope at Talladega. That discovery — which led to a NASCAR-wide show of support for Wallace — led to no criminal hate crime charges after federal investigators and NASCAR determined that the rope had been tied like a noose since October of 2019.

He’s also shown himself to be capable behind the wheel with three top-10 finishes through 20 races for a RPM team that’s nowhere near the top of the NASCAR team power rankings. Wallace is currently 20th in the standings and his average finish of 20.0 is almost a four-spot improvement from 2020.

It makes total sense why RPM wants to keep Wallace. The team landed a partial-season Cash App sponsorship this summer and Wallace has attracted the financial backing of Worldwide Technologies. The money that Wallace brings to the team through his mainstream appeal is vital for the team’s performance and balance sheets.

But it also makes total sense why Wallace would want to explore his options. Rides are potentially available at teams like Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and maybe even Chip Ganassi Racing. They’re all upgrades compared to RPM’s equipment.

And while Murstein may think that revealing that Wallace’s offer of an ownership stake is a carrot to get him to re-sign with the team, it may not actually be that attractive of an incentive. Richard Petty Motorsports hasn’t been the most financially viable of teams over the last decade. And the sponsorship that Wallace has been able to attract has kept the team afloat and semi-competitive.

Is it worth it for Wallace to tie himself to RPM in the form of an ownership stake? Maybe not, especially because owning a NASCAR team isn’t like owning a team in another professional sport. While franchises across the NBA, NFL, MLB and other leagues rake in money in non-pandemic years, it’s hard to make money in NASCAR’s current form without a pandemic ravaging the country.

That’s why Wallace should take his time exploring every option available to him for next season. While he’s progressed at RPM and clearly has found a comfort level with the team, there could be some bigger opportunities out there for him.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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