Richard Petty’s proclamation back in October that a “completely different RPM” would be showing up to Daytona in February is coming to fruition.
After signing Darrell Wallace Jr. to drive the No. 43 car, Richard Petty Motorsports will switch its manufacturer alliance from Ford to Chevrolet beginning in 2018. The team is also moving from Mooresville onto the Richard Childress Racing campus in Welcome, North Carolina. In doing so, the two organizations will form an alliance.
There have been no official announcements or comments from any of the parties involved. However, SportsBusiness Daily reported details Thursday before Petty then confirmed the news to Kickin’ the Tires at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indianapolis.
“We are off in the corner up at RCR. When you first come in you go by the museum and we’ve got the first building up there,” Petty told Kickin’ the Tires. “We’re on the campus but we’re not really on the campus. We are on the corner of the campus. I guess he [Richard Childress] done that so he could kick us out if we get to causing too much trouble up there.”
RPM has been primarily a Ford team since 2010. On the manufacturer switch Petty said, “We’re switching to something. … It’s a pretty forgone conclusion what is going on right now. We’ll probably be working off [Childress] sort of like we did off of Roush with Ford.”
Wallace, 24, replaces Aric Almirola, who had been Petty’s driver for the past six seasons. Almirola returned the team to victory lane for the first time since 2011 when he was declared the winner of the rain-shortened July race at Daytona in 2014. He also competed in the playoffs that year.
Almirola is headed to Stewart-Haas Racing and Wallace shined during his tenure in the No. 43 when Almirola was injured early in the summer. In his final race with the team at Kentucky Speedway, Wallace earned a career-best 11th-place finish.
But there are many questions still to be answered. The biggest regards a large portion of sponsorship for Wallace as Smithfield has left RPM to follow Almirola. STP will return for two races in 2018 and Click n’ Close was welcomed last month for what will be at least three races.
There has also been no announcement from RCR about the fate of the No. 27 car as Paul Menard has departed the company for Wood Brothers Racing.