CONCORD, N.C. — Richard Petty Motorsports CEO Brian Moffitt did not hesitate to offer his support of ‘super sub’ Regan Smith on Friday, as the Cato, N.Y. native steps in for the injured Aric Almirola during Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Smith will pilot the No. 43 Ford in lieu of Almirola, who suffered a fracture of the T5 vertebra in a hard crash at Kansas Speedway last weekend and will miss “somewhere between eight to 12 weeks” while he recovers.
Moffitt was emphatic that the 33-year-old was the right man for the job, thanks to Smith’s track record as a replacement driver in years past at the Cup level.
Since 2012, Smith has filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet) and Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet).
“We were looking for a Cup driver for this situation, and Regan was gracious enough to step in,” Moffitt said. “We feel like he’s going to bring the car home safe, because consistency is what we were looking for (in a substitute driver) and Regan has that track record.”
“He drives a lot like Aric and that’s what we were focused on when we came to the conclusion of having him drive for us this weekend.”
Though Smith has not driven a Cup car yet this year, he did drive full-time at the Cup level for Tommy Baldwin last season and has run all four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races to-date this year for Ricky Benton Racing.
Moffitt also discussed the steps that RPM went through as a team before settling on Smith as their interim driver.
“The process has been that we wanted to make sure that Aric was okay, first and foremost, when this happened. Our worries were for him and what the future was going to be. We have a protocol that we go by … and when we got back to North Carolina, the King (Richard Petty), Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief), Aric and I all sat down and went through a list of people (that could serve as substitute drivers) after we learned what the diagnosis was.”
Though the team is set for NASCAR’s All-Star program, Moffitt confirmed that a decision for who will pilot the No. 43 Ford beyond this weekend has not been finalized.
“We’re still working through (the driver situation beyond All-Star weekend) right now,” Moffitt explained. “We’re working with our partners.”
“As soon as we know (what the plan will be) for the future, we’ll be letting everyone know that, but right now we’re thrilled that Regan is going to be in the car for us this weekend and hoping he can give the whole Richard Petty Motorsports team a great run as we look to qualify into the All-Star Race.”
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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