There will be another driver change this week for Richard Petty Motorsports, but it will be a brief one: Road-course specialist Billy Johnson will drive the No. 43 RPM Ford in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
Johnson will replace Darrell “Bubba” Wallace for the Sonoma weekend only, with Wallace returning to the car the following weekend at Daytona.
Wallace is filling in for the injured Aric Almirola, the regular driver of the No. 43, who broke his back in a hard crash last month in Kansas.
Last weekend, Johnson competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he drives for Ford’s IMSA team. In addition, he’s trained more then 20 Ford drivers in the nuances of road racing. Sonoma will be his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, although he’s had five starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, with a best of eighth at Montreal in 2012.
“It is going to be awesome,” said Johnson. “It will be my first NASCAR Cup race and to debut in the 43 car, one of the most iconic numbers to ever race in NASCAR, is a huge honor. Richard Petty Motorsports is a great organization. To have the chance to make my Cup debut for the King is surreal, and I appreciate them putting me in the car.”
After Sonoma, Wallace will pilot the No. 43 until Almirola returns from his back injury.