Darrell Wallace will make his Cup Series debut at Pocono on Sunday.
Richard Petty Motorsports has tabbed Wallace as the interim driver of the No. 43 car until Aric Almirola returns from his back injury. Almirola suffered a fractured vertebra in a crash at Kansas Speedway on May 13.
When he drives at Pocono, Wallace will be the first African-American driver in the Cup Series since Bill Lester ran two races in 2006.
Regan Smith had filled in for Almirola for the past three weeks. Wallace has been driving the No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series.
“Driving the famed 43 car is an unbelievable opportunity for any race car driver,” Wallace said in a statement. “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 fully recovers, which is the most important piece of this.”
Wallace’s substitute stint comes at a price. Or perhaps the price is more of an opportunity. Because of a lack of sponsorship, Roush is suspending operations of Wallace’s car after Pocono. Wallace had said previously that the team was struggling to find funding for the entire season.
Wallace has seven top-10 finishes in 11 Xfinity races in 2017. He moved to Roush after driving full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series for two seasons. He was seventh in the Xfinity Series standings in 2015 and dropped to 11th in 2016.
Almirola is expected to be sidelined for most of the summer and he said he knows he needs to be patient with his recovery process to ensure the future quality of his life isn’t affected.
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