Richard Petty Motorsports officials announced that Regan Smith will pilot the team’s iconic No. 43 entry in Saturday’s Monster Energy Open at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Aric Almirola, the organization’s full-time driver, suffered a compression fracture of the T5 vertebra when he was involved in a fiery three-car crash during last weekend’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. How long he will be out of the car has not been announced. However, the 33-year-old Tampa, Florida, native is scheduled to address the media Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Smith, 33, has one career win in 211 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and six career victories in the XFINITY Series. He is currently competing for Ricky Benton Racing in the Camping World Truck Series
Almirola was injured in an accident that began when contact from Joey Logano (Team Penske Ford) sent Danica Patrick (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) hard into the outside wall on Lap 199 of the 267-lap race.
Flames had already engulfed Patrick’s entry when Almirola struck the left front of Logano’s car. The impact was so severe it lifted the rear wheels of Almirola’s Ford off the racing surface.
Logano and Patrick were not injured. Emergency workers had to cut away the roof of Almirola’s car to safely remove him from his vehicle.
He was conscious as workers placed him on a backboard; moments later he was transported via helicopter to the University of Kansas Medical Center.
The Monster Energy Open (6 p.m. ET, FS1) is the qualifying race preceding the series’ annual All-Star Race at CMS and consists of two 20-lap segments followed by a final 10-lap segment. Winners of each segment automatically advance into the Monster Energy All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR).
A fourth entry will advance based on fan votes.
Smith is scheduled to compete for Ricky Benton Racing in Friday night’s Truck Series race.
Friday’s press conference with Almirola, RPM CEO Brian Moffitt and Director of OrthoCarolina Motorsports William Heisel will be streamed live at 11 a.m. ET on NASCAR.com.