Aric Almirola’s T5 compression fracture at Kansas Speedway Saturday night left a seat to be filled at Richard Petty Motorsports. At least for this weekend, that spot will be filled by Cup Series veteran Regan Smith.
With limited time to find a substitute driver, the team announced Wednesday afternoon Smith will drive the No. 43 Ford. He’ll fill the spot for the Monster Energy Open (and the big race should Smith transfer in). A press conference has been called for Friday in Charlotte to discuss details and whether the assignment will extend beyond this weekend.
Smith last raced full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series last year for Tommy Baldwin Racing. A Cup Series winner in 2012, Smith captured Darlington with Furniture Row Racing and has plenty of experience at the Cup level. He’s accumulated that win, four top fives and 13 top-10 finishes in 211 Cup starts.
The Cato, N.Y. native has made his mark in a variety of different rides. NASCAR experience extends from his rookie season at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to full-time stints at FRR and in the XFINITY Series with JR Motorsports.
Now, Smith has a chance to prove himself once again and earn some extra cash. A win in any of the three stages of the Open, a prelim to NASCAR’s main exhibition will secure Smith and RPM a spot in the Monster Energy All-Star Race.
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Currently, Smith races part-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Ricky Benton Racing. He drives their No. 92 along with serving as an analyst on NASCAR Race Hub for Fox Sports.
As for the injured Almirola, he’ll join RPM CEO Brian Moffitt and William Heisel, Director of OrthoCarolina Motorsports, at the Charlotte presser. Scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Friday it’ll be Almirola’s first public appearance since the injury.
It is unknown at this time how many races he’ll miss but previous reports have claimed drivers were offered the No. 43 through Sonoma on June 25.