Could RPM expand back to a two-car team with Darrell Wallace Jr.?

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Could RPM expand back to a two-car team with Darrell Wallace Jr.?
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Jul 22, 2017, 3:20 PM

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace had a solid audition behind the wheel of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford while substituting for Aric Almirola.

Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

With each of this four races, Wallace improved his performance from 26th at Pocono in his debut to 11th with his stint ended at Kentucky Speedway.

If RPM could secure sponsorship for a second squad, team owner Richard Petty would like to see the 23-year-old racer return the fold.

“We haven’t talked too much to Darrell,” Petty said on Saturday. “He’s still looking to find a home. If we had a chance, then we would definitely be more than interested in him driving the car.

“Right now, it’s up to somebody else. If someone decides to be involved with us, then we’ll work it out from there.”

In 2009, when Petty joined forces with he late Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, the organization fielded four cars. The organization ran four full-time squads the following year with Aric Almirola running the last five races for Kasey Kahne after he jumped over to Red Bull Racing. By 2011, RPM scaled down to two teams with AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose. Almirola joined RPM full-time in 2012 and has competed in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford ever since — until he fractured his T5 vertebra at Kansas Speedway on May 13.

Prior to Almirola’s injury, the No. 43 Ford was on an upswing. His two top-five finishes in the first 11 races were more than Almirola had in all of 2016. Almirola has also led more laps and posted more top-10 (three) results in 2017.

Although this is a contract year for Almirola — and Smithfield — the outlook is positive for the sponsor. Almirola has opted not to discuss his plans for 2018. But it’s possible that RPM could return to a two-car operation next year with the proper support.

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