Regan Smith is substituting again.
Richard Petty Motorsports said Smith would drive the No. 43 for Aric Almirola in Saturday night’s qualifying for the All-Star Race. Almirola suffered a compression fracture to his T5 vertebra in a violent crash at Kansas Speedway.
No timeline for Almirola’s absence has been announced by the team, though RPM and Almirola will have a news conference on Friday morning and will likely provide an update then.
Smith has been without a Cup Series ride in 2017 after driving a full season for Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2016. TBR announced at the end of the season that it would scale back to a part-time schedule and Smith has driven all four Truck Series races in 2017 in the No. 92 truck.
Before racing for TBR for a season, Smith was the Cup Series’ ubiquitous substitute driver after he parted ways with Furniture Row Racing in 2012. He drove for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for two races in 2012, a race for Tony Stewart in 2014, three races for Kurt Busch in 2015 and a race for Kyle Larson in that season as well. Junior missed his two races because of a concussion, Stewart was out after he struck and killed Kevin Ward at a dirt track, Busch was suspended by NASCAR and Larson missed a race after he fainted at an appearance.
Smith has one win — the 2011 Southern 500 — in 211 Cup Series starts. He’ll have to win either of the three stages in the 50-lap qualifying race to get the No. 43 into the All-Star Race later that evening.
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