Richard Petty Switches To Chevy And Aligns With Richard Childress Racing

Aric Almirola

Richard Petty Motorsports will switch from Ford to Chevrolet, be aligned with Richard Childress Racing and relocate to the RCR campus in Welcome, North Carolina, according to a report Thursday by SportsBusiness Daily.

Spokespersons for Chevrolet, Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing told NBC Sports on Thursday they had no comment on the report.

Richard Petty Motorsports is in the midst of significant change. The team announced Oct. 25 that Darrell Wallace, Jr. would drive the No. 43 car next season. He will take over for Aric Almirola, who left after this season to join Stewart-Haas Racing.

RPM stated Aug. 28 that it would vacate the race shop it leased in Mooresville, North Carolina, after the season.

The organization continues to look for sponsorship. Smithfield had been a primary sponsor the past six years. Smithfield will sponsor Almirola at Stewart-Haas Racing next year but also is expected to stay on in some form with RPM, according to a SportsBusiness Daily report in October. Richard Petty Motorsports announced Nov. 3 that Click n’ Close will sponsor the car in at least three races next year, including the Daytona 500. STP announced Nov. 13 that it would sponsor RPM in two races in 2018. 

The pairing of Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing makes sense because RCR appears to have room at its facility. Richard Childress Racing, which has run three full-time Cup teams the past six seasons, has not announced plans for the No. 27 Cup team. That ride was left in question after Paul Menard and sponsor Menard’s announced in July that they would move to the Wood Brothers for 2018.

Richard Childress Racing, which has three charters, has announced only Cup entries for next season for Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman. Richard Petty Motorsports has two charters (it leased one last year) but is only expected to field the No. 43 for Wallace.

By partnering, it would allow RPM to have access to the engineering support Richard Childress Racing can supply. By adding RPM, it would allow Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines to offset the loss of the No. 27 team if it doesn’t run next season.

Also, a move by Wallace and RPM to Chevrolet would mean that half the 14 Chevrolet Cup drivers who have been announced with rides for next season would be age 25 or under to start the season. Wallace is 24 and would join William Byron (age 20), Chase Elliott (22), Alex Bowman (24), Kyle Larson (25), Ty Dillon (25) and Chris Buescher (25) in the Chevrolet roster with such a move.


Click N’Close Partners With Richard Petty Motorsports

Aric Almirola
Click n’ Close™, a division of Mid America Mortgage, Inc., has entered into official partnership agreements with the sanctioning body, NASCAR, and one of the most iconic race teams in the sport, Richard Petty Motorsports. The collaborations designate Click n’ Close as the “Official Mortgage Provider of NASCAR®” in addition to becoming a partner of Richard Petty Motorsports.

Click n’ Close is Mid America Mortgage’s new digital mortgage approval and closing platform that provides home buyers with a fast, simple and secure experience by automating many of the steps of a traditional mortgage process. With Click n’ Close, home buyers are able to complete their application within eight minutes and receive an approval within one business day. On average, home buyers approved through Click n’ Close reach the closing table in less than half the time of a traditional mortgage process and are able to complete their closing and receive their keys within 15 minutes. To safeguard sensitive information, Click n’ Close employs bank-level security, including advanced data encryption, allowing home buyers to safely apply for a mortgage anywhere, anytime, using any device.

“Speed is a familiar concept to NASCAR’s powerful community of sponsors and fans, which is why we chose to launch Click n’ Close nationally by partnering with NASCAR and Richard Petty Motorsports,” said Jeff Bode, owner and CEO of Mid America Mortgage. “Click n’ Close is revolutionizing the way we service home buyers and homeowners, and we’re confident that the NASCAR community will appreciate how quickly and easily they can now secure a mortgage through Click n’ Close.”

As part of the agreement with Richard Petty Motorsports, the Click n’ Close brand will be featured as a primary sponsor of the No. 43 car driven by Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. for at least three races, making its debut at the 2018 Daytona 500. The No. 43 Click n’ Close car will also make appearances at Phoenix Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

“We have recently had a lot of positive discussions about our race program in 2018, and having a new partner such as Click n’ Close is proof of that,” said Richard Petty, co-owner, Richard Petty Motorsports. “Click n’ Close is a perfect tool for people who want a faster, more secure way to apply for a mortgage. We feel that Bubba and our team are a perfect fit to help spread their message to NASCAR fans across the country.”

Click n’ Close was introduced today at the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council meetings taking place in Texas, near Mid America’s headquarters. The new Official Partner engaged an exclusive group of nearly 55 Official NASCAR Partners who gather to buy and sell products and services from one another. The business-to-business environment offers unique opportunities for many FORTUNE 500 companies to bypass the time and layers of corporate coordination to construct customized deals that help address specific business needs.

“Click n’ Close’s multi-faceted sponsorship will be an effective way to introduce its platform to a national audience,” said Steve Phelps, executive vice president and chief global sales and marketing officer, NASCAR. “Our fans are the most brand loyal in sports and continue to differentiate NASCAR from other sports and entertainment properties.”

In addition to engaging with fellow sponsors, teams and drivers, Click n’ Close, will also host key customers and prospects at-track with strategic hospitality events at NASCAR races throughout the year.


RPM Announces Darrell Wallace, Jr. As Their Driver In 2018

Darrell Wallace, Jr.
In one of the organization’s most anticipated moments in its history, Richard Petty Motorsports announced today Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. as the new driver of the No. 43 made famous by team co-owner, “The King” Richard Petty.  Wallace, 24, will compete full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and for the Sunoco Rookie of The Year beginning at the 2018 Daytona 500.

Wallace, a native of Mobile, Alabama, is already one of the sport’s most popular figures with an incredible record of success behind the wheel.  A graduate of both NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, Wallace has broken several barriers and records throughout his rise within the sport.

Earlier this season, Wallace made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut as a substitute driver for the injured Aric Almirola in the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) at Pocono (Penn.) Raceway on June 11.  Wallace showed rapid improvement over the four races he participated, substantially improving his finish position every race, culminating with an 11th place finish at Kentucky Speedway on July 8.

Wallace initially rose to prominence in 2013 with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, becoming the first African-American driver in 50 years to win a NASCAR national touring series feature since NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott. The next season Wallace finished third overall in the truck series point standings with four wins for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Wallace moved up full-time to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing in 2015, where he earned 31 Top-10 finishes over the last three seasons before making his Cup debut in June with RPM.

“This is a dream come true to race for ‘The King’, Richard Petty Motorsports, the iconic No. 43 and for all the fans and partners that have and continue to support this team,” said Wallace.  “I believe in what Richard Petty Motorsports is doing and their desire to win races. I believe this team, its partners and fans are ready to see some great things again.  I’m humbled that they have chosen me to take that next step with them. I’m ready for next season to begin and to prove to people that we can compete at the level we all expect to be at.”

Veteran and winning crew chief Drew Blickensderfer will continue to lead the No. 43 team in 2018 with Wallace.  Petty believes that Wallace brings the current youth movement to RPM.

“We have hired a lot of different drivers in the past, but Wallace brings a lot of youth and talent to our team,” explained Petty.   “He’s proven at a young age to be able to be consistent on a weekly basis, give feedback to the team to help improve the car and race hard to get the best finish possible.  He knows how to win, too.  His records leading up to the top levels of NASCAR speak for themselves.  We feel that Bubba can immediately come in and compete.  He’s really eager to show what he can do and that he belongs in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”

Wallace will become the first full-time African-American driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since Scott.  Partners for Wallace and the No. 43 team for the 2018 season will be announced at a later date.


Aric Almirola Hopes A Ride For 2018 Materializes

Aric Almirola

As far as Richard Petty Motorsports is concerned, there are two known quantities where the legendary race team is concerned.

First, Aric Almirola will not be behind the wheel of the No. 43 RPM Ford next season. Second, sponsor Smithfield Foods has opted not to renew its support for RPM next year, choosing instead to shift its backing to Stewart-Haas Racing.

What remains to be revealed is the identity of RPM’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver for 2018. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., who spent four races in the No. 43 Ford while Almirola was recovering from a crushed vertebra sustained during a wreck at Kansas in May, hopes he gets the nod. And Wallace acknowledged on Friday at Chicagoland Speedway that he and RPM are working toward that goal.

“Things with the 43 are still shaking out,” said Wallace, who was impressive in his four-event stint as a sub. “That’s in RPM’s hands right now. Obviously, the news that came out the other day (about Smithfield’s departure), they are pushing hard to fight through some things and I’m supporting them.

“Nothing is set in stone. We’re still trying to figure out what we need to do.”

Though there has been speculation that Almirola will follow Smithfield to Stewart-Haas Racing—particularly now that Danica Patrick has revealed she will exit the No. 10 Ford at season’s end—Almirola declined to discuss his 2018 status during a question-and-answer session behind the No. 43 transporter on Friday afternoon.

“I am not going to comment on 2018,” Almirola said. “I am here to comment on finding out I am not going to be driving the 43 car.”

Almirola said team owner Richard Petty had notified him he wouldn’t be returning to the No. 43 Ford “many weeks ago.”

The answers to these questions, as well as a few more will be revealed over the next few weeks!


Two More Cup Seats Opens Up For 2018

Aric Almirola

Yesterday was not a good day for Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola.  It was announced that both drivers will not return to their previous employers.  Danica posted on her Facebook page that she will not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. Likewise, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that not only would they be losing one of their primary sponsors to Stewart-Haas Racing, Smithfield Foods, but also that Aric Almirola would not return as the driver of the famed RPM No. 43 Ford Fusion.

Is Danica’s NASCAR driving career over?  It would appear that it is, at this point.  Over her NASCAR career she has been unable to be competitive on a weekly basis.  These days she drives the same equipment that Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer does but she has continued to finish near the back of the pack, 20th-32nd each week.  Those finishes will not generate the necessary sponsorship dollars required to keep a Cup team financed for 36 races.

After GoDaddy left Danica two years ago, it became more apparent that it was going to be difficult to sell sponsorship to the 36 race schedule for her.  Coupled with the law suit that Nature’s Bakery levied against her and SHR, it added to the fact that the apparent return on investment (ROI) was not fulfilling to the sponsors, and that her time in NASCAR was drawing to a close.

Aric Almirola, as well as the entire Richard Petty Motorsports organization, has suffered from the same lack of performance that has plagued Danica.  After his mid season injury word began leaking out that Almirola’s job was not really secure.  This week the announcement that Smithfield is leaving RPM at season’s end has hit that team right in the pocketbook!  In turn, RPM announced that Almirola would not return to the organization in 2018.

After all, NASCAR is a performance driven profession and if the performance is not there you will be replaced in time.

Now the speculation is rampant as to who will fill these two vacancies in 2018.

There are several drivers that could fill either of these two cockpits.  Both Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth are available for employment in 2018.  Either driver may be a good fit to replace Patrick at SHR, as well as a replacement at RPM.

However, do not overlook the SHR Xfinity driver, Cole Custer.  Custer has had a very good rookie season with the rookie SHR entry into the NXS.  Custer appears to be in a good place to qualify for the NXS playoffs.  I think that you may see this young man stepping up to fill the empty seat vacated by Patrick’s exit from SHR.

As mentioned above Kahne and Kenseth could move over to RPM, but I think that would be highly unlikely for either since the No. 43 is not a very competitive team, presently.  Additionally, their requested salary may be outside RPM’s budget.

Therefore, my thought is that RPM may be trying to get enough sponsorship together to put Darrell Wallace, Jr. into the cockpit for 2018.

Over the next couple of weeks these seats will be filled and the work on getting the requisite dollars to cover the 36 race schedule for 2018 will be announced.


Smithfield Foods And Richard Petty Motorsports Still Negotiating

Aric Almirola
Smithfield Foods is working toward a return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team Richard Petty Motorsports, according to sources. The Virginia-based company is in a contract year with RPM, and the company has been pursued by several competing teams.

While a deal with RPM is not finalized, Smithfield is said to be in talks to return there. Team co-Owner Richard Petty has expressed mixed messages in his public comments about trying to keep Smithfield. He told NBC Sports last month that he was “confident” about it, but that came just a week after he told Racer magazine that the team was “struggling” to earn the renewal.

Smithfield has been linked with moves away from RPM, most notably with Stewart-Haas Racing’s #10 Ford that is currently driven by Danica Patrick. The company signed a three-year extension with RPM in 2014 through this season, and it is believed to be spending in the $10-12M range annually as the team’s most visible sponsor.

Sources said that the company is looking at recalibrating its spend next year in the form of cuts to the program. Retaining Smithfield would be a vital development for RPM, which industry execs have feared could land in financial trouble if it lost the company.

Smithfield has turned into one of the sport’s most active brands, securing media buys on both Fox and NBC, as well as initiating an at-track activation presence. The company has heavily leveraged working with Petty, the sport’s most winning driver of all time. RPM declined comment; Smithfield did not return a request for comment by presstime.

The #43 Ford sponsored by Smithfield is driven by Aric Almirola, and the Cuban-American driver’s contract is up after this year.

RPM has said that it is working to find additional sponsorship for a full-season effort in the #44 car for Bubba Wallace, who drove the #43 four times earlier this season while Almirola was recovering from injury. Sources said that it is possible that Wallace could end up replacing Almirola in the #43.

A source close to RPM called such a possibility premature but did not rule it out. Meanwhile, RPM’s manufacturer deal with Ford is also up after this year, and sources said it is possible that the team could switch to Chevy next season. Chevy declined comment, as did Ford.


Bubba Has A “One Off “And Parks It At Michigan!

Darrell Wallace, Jr.
For the final 11 laps of today’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr. protected his leading position. He blocked high and low and middle, and when he briefly lost the lead, he quickly surged his No. 99 MDM Motorsports Chevrolet back ahead. Every move he made in today’s LTi Printing 200 to earn a trip to Victory Lane turned out to be the right one.

Actually getting to Victory Lane, that was another story.

After laying down a massive burnout to raucous applause from the MIS crowd, Wallace stopped his truck on the apron—he seemed unsure where to go. A NASCAR official pointed forward and to the right. Wallace followed those directions.

“It’s been so long since I’ve been in Victory Lane,” Wallace said. “I try to hold a positive mindset over it, and everybody in my family knows it eats at me every day.”

It was Wallace’s first race in a truck since the last race of the 2014 season; he won that race, too. It was his sixth win in a truck and first at Michigan.

After he parked his truck in Victory Lane, it appeared that every member of his team stuck their head in to say congratulations. His girlfriend, Amanda Carter, leaned in and kissed him. This was her first visit with him to a NASCAR Victory Lane. Still shaking a few minutes later, she said, “This is so incredible. It is so awesome.”

It certainly was that for Wallace, whose roller coaster career appeared stalled this season. Wallace, who opened 2017 as NASCAR’s only full-time African American driver, lost his NASCAR XFINITY Series ride with Roush Fenway Racing earlier this year due to a lack of sponsorship. He debuted in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for four races as a replacement for the injured Aric Almirola. But since then, nothing. His deal with MDM Motorsports was announced just this week.

Wallace entered the race confident his truck was fast. He struggled early on, including a penalty on lap 53 when his pit crew went over the wall too soon. But he worked his way toward the front. He appeared content to stay in third behind Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell as the laps wound down. He and spotter Freddie Kraft sketched out a plan—Wallace would wait for those two to get side-by-side so he could pass them both at once.

“You’re going probably 10 miles an hour faster than they are,” Kraft said. “As soon as they do that, you have the momentum.”

Wallace preferred to wait for the pass until there were only a handful of laps left. But when Cindric and Bell got side-by-side with 11 to go, Kraft keyed his radio and said, “Here’s your chance.”

“I closed my eyes, turned left, and heard clear,” said Wallace when discussing the heroic three-wide move to give truck owner Mike Millner his first series victory.

As cool as it was to see nobody in front of him, Wallace figured it wouldn’t last. He thought other drivers would do to him what he had just done to Cindric and Bell. But the drivers behind him spent most of the time racing each other instead of trying to pass him. And when they did devote their attention to getting by Wallace, he darted and dived and kept them behind.

Check out the unofficial results of the LTi Printing 200 at Michigan.


Who Is Next To Punch Their Ticket To The NXS Playoffs?

Justin Allgaier

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
In the first four races of 2017, the NASCAR XFINITY Series has seen two series championship contenders win races – Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed at Daytona International Speedway and last weekend’s victor, JR Motorsports’ driver Justin Allgaier at Phoenix Raceway. The two drivers not only have scored playoff points (five each), but also guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining regular season races and stay inside the top 30 in points.

This weekend, on the last stop of the #NASCARGoesWest part of the schedule, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will head to Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300 on Saturday, March 25, at 4 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The only way to a championship is through the playoffs. Both Reed and Allgaier have accumulated five playoff points each with their wins; which can help them advance through the playoffs later this season. Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate and current driver standings leader Elliott Sadler is the only other title contender to earn playoff points through the first four races – Sadler won the first two stages of the season-opening race at Daytona to earn two playoff points.

Who will be the next title contender to secure their spot in the playoffs with a win this weekend at Auto Club Speedway?

The last NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender to win at Auto Club Speedway was in 2010, when Kyle Busch swept both races that season. The past six races have been won by drivers that have elected to compete for a championship in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Kyle Busch leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with six victories.

Despite all that, NASCAR’s Loop Data points to Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. as this season’s series title contender with a solid chance to visit Victory Lane this weekend. He has the best Auto Club Speedway pre-race driver rating among series contenders (102.2) and the best average running position (7.2). He also spent 99.3% of his two starts at Auto Club Speedway in the top 15.  He finished in the top-five of this event last season.

“We had a solid run last season here in Fontana, finishing third,” said Darrell Wallace Jr. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting back there this weekend and try to follow that up and maybe get a couple spots better. We’ve gotten off to a great start in 2017, and I’m confident we can keep that momentum going on Saturday.”


Bubba And Hemric Look To Build On Solid Atlanta Finishes

Darrell Wallace, Jr.

Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Hemric had forgettable season openers at Daytona when a wreck on the 29th lap ended both of their days.

Fortunately, the two young drivers expected to be NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contenders bounced back nicely with finishes of sixth and ninth, respectively, at Atlanta.

They’ll try to build momentum in the series’ first stop on its West Coast swing – Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on FS1).

Wallace has made two starts in Sin City, finishing seventh in 2015 and placing 33rd last season after wrecking out of the race.

“Last weekend in Atlanta was big for us,” Wallace said. “We showed how we will never give up and will fight to get the best finish we can. That gives everyone on this team a lot of optimism as we get ready for Vegas this weekend. There’s a whole new attitude around our shop and it’s really fun to be a part of.”

Hemric, a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, will compete at Las Vegas in the XFINITY Series for the first time this weekend. In two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at the 1.5-mile track, he’s finished sixth (2015) and second (2016).

“I have only run the truck races there at night, so it will be interesting to have all of our on-track activity during the day,” Hemric said. “It’s just a fun place. No matter what, everyone gets pumped up to go to Vegas. That trickles down through the system and gets the drivers pumped up, too. I love what the race track has to offer.”


Darrell Wallace, Jr. Salvages An 11th Place Finish At Texas

Darrell Wallace, Jr.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 6 Leidos Ford Mustang, recorded an 11th-place finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon in the penultimate race of the second-round of the Chase.

“Today was a good rebound for us,” said Wallace after the race. “Hats off to all my guys on this Leidos team for their work this weekend. We were able to salvage a good finish despite the fact that we couldn’t really nail down the handling of the car. It kept going back and forth all day long but my guys never gave up. The Leidos team had a nice day and made no mistakes. Now it’s on to Phoenix where we know what we have to do.”

Wallace took the green flag from the 18th position after advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying on Saturday morning. In the early stages of the event Wallace reported to crew chief Seth Barbour that the Leidos Mustang was struggling to find grip through the corners. Despite the handling condition Wallace improved five positions to 13th before the first round of green flag pit stops on Lap 47.

After returning to the track in 13th following the stop, the Roush Fenway Racing driver reported that the car had shifted toward the loose side. This persisted throughout much of the middle portion of the afternoon as Wallace battled for position inside the top 15. However, a timely caution on Lap 165 gave crew chief Barbour one last opportunity to make a chassis adjustment to the Leidos Mustang.

Wallace took the ensuing restart from the 10th position and utilized a three-wide move on the outside to move into eighth. Wallace continued to battle for position inside the top 10 for several laps before getting shuffled back to 11th in the closing stages.

In the end Wallace took the checkered flag in the 11th position.

With the result, Wallace ranks seventh in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Grid with one race remaining in the round two.

Next up for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the final race of Round Two of the Chase at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, Nov. 12.


One-Mile Phoenix International Raceway

Phoenix, Arizona

Saturday, November 12, 2016

7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and MRN



Bubba Wallace

Started: 18th

Finished: 11th