As Aric Almirola continues to heal from his back injuries sustained last month at Kansas, the seat of his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford has been filled by Regan Smith, but starting this weekend at Pocono, a new face will be in the cockpit until Almirola returns.
That driver will be Darrell Wallace, Jr., who has been racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Roush-Fenway Racing this season. Sunday’s start for legendary car owner Richard Petty will be Wallace’s first start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the first start for an African-American driver in NASCAR’s top division since 2006.
“Driving the famed 43 car is an unbelievable opportunity for any race car driver,” Wallace said. “With all that Richard Petty has contributed to the sport, I’m honored to start my first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event with this team. I’m incredibly grateful that Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports and Smithfield have the confidence in me to help fill the seat until Aric (Almirola) fully recovers, which is the most important piece of this.”
“Moving up to the Monster Energy Series is a tremendous challenge, but I am ready to represent this organization, help the 43 team get the best results possible and prove that I belong at this level.”
Through 11 races in the Xfinity Series this season, Wallace has seven top-10 finishes to his name and currently sits fourth in points.
In total, Wallace has six top-five finishes, 34 top-10 finishes, two poles, 166 laps led, and an average finish of 13.7 in 83 career starts in the Xfinity Series.
While he has yet to score a win in the Xfinity Series, Wallace did find a good deal of success while running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2013 to 2014, capturing five wins, 14 top-five finishes, 26 top-10 finishes, three poles, 963 laps led, and an average finish of 10.8 in 44 starts.
In three previous starts at Pocono, Wallace finished in the top-10 in his two starts in the Truck Series, while finishing 16th in the Xfinity Series last season.
With Wallace making his Cup Series debut at the 2.5 mile track, he will run double duty in both the Cup Series and Xfinity Series this weekend, but after Pocono, Roush Fenway’s No. 6 team will be suspended. The team noted that they will continue to evaluate additional opportunities for Wallace to run in the Xfinity Series down the road.