Regan Smith to drive No. 43 in Coca-Cola 600 for Almirola
CONCORD, N.C. -- Richard Petty Motorsports announced that veteran driver Regan Smith will substitute for Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Ford Fusion for this week's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sunday's race will be Smith's second week in the car, as he piloted RPM's entry to a fourth-place finish in the Monster Energy Open exhibition event. Almirola remains sidelined with a T5 vertebra compression fracture he suffered in a violent crash at Kansas Speedway on May 13.
The team has not announced any plans beyond this weekend's event at Charlotte.
During a media availability at Charlotte last week, Almirola indicated that he could miss 8-12 weeks while recovering from his injury.
In 11 Monster Energy Cup Series starts at NASCAR's home track, Smith has a career-best finish of eighth in 2011. He has three top-five finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at CMS, with a best finish of fourth in 2015.
Smith's No. 43 machine will bear the name of fallen Senior Airmen Mark Forester as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance during NASCAR's longest race. Forester was killed in action in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan as a Combat Controller. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for his heroism during ground combat on August 6, 2010.
Forester was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for paying the ultimate price while serving.
"We're thrilled to be able to honor Senior Airmen Mark Forester on the No. 43 Air Force Ford for the 600 Miles of Remembrance," said Richard Petty. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice, and because of his sacrifice and the sacrifice of his family, we are able to race each weekend. We're humbled we have the opportunity to give back to Mark's family and honor Mark during Memorial Day weekend."