You’ve heard that old cliche that the bigger the hill, the bigger the snowball that forms on its way down right? Well, that snowball started off small with Smithfield announcing on Tuesday morning that they were leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. That wasn’t too shocking.
But, the next domino that fell was when Danica Patrick announced that she won’t be back with SHR next season. Then, RPM revealed that Aric Almirola also won’t be back with them for 2018 either literally minutes later.
Almirola would be joining SHR in replacing Danica and bringing Smithfield with him. So, what’s next?
RPM Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer announced on NASCAR’s Race Hub tonight on FS1, that the team is now going to move forward that Bubba Wallace Jr. will be driving their car for 2018. He said that there was always a plan in place to find funding to put Wallace in a car with RPM for next season. The team was always searching for funding for Wallace, but they were going to try to expand for two cars with Almirola in the No. 43 with Smithfield and Wallace in another car.
But, with Almirola and Smithfield gone, it’s now down to Wallace in the No. 43 and them still searching for funding.
Wallace, subbed for Almirola in four races this season while Almirola was injured. He impressed the team with finishes of 26th, 19th, 15th and 11th respectively. Wallace improved as the weeks went on.
Then, Almirola came back and Wallace was out. Wallace has made one start since in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where he won at Michigan. Granted, the win was encumbered, but it was still a great effort out of the Alabama native.
Ford has always liked Wallace, ever since he joined them as a developmental driver in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and they’re definitely wanting to keep him. RPM is a Ford team in need of funding. With NASCAR needing RPM to be on the grid and also needing Wallace and his story in the garage as well, it’s a perfect fit and situation for both sides.
If RPM is going to be on track in 2018, Wallace is the guy.
Think about it. NASCAR is losing Dale Earnhardt Jr. and now likely their only female driver in Danica Patrick. That comes after losing Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon the last two seasons. Having a very successful and talented African-American driver in the iconic No. 43 Ford is big for the sport to bridge that gap lost.
I think this deal some way gets done.