After an off-season reevaluation, CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports Brian Moffitt confirmed to the NASCAR media that RPM will field only one full-time team in 2017.
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 car will remain at RPM full-time for 2017 with backing from Smithfield Foods. Almirola recorded a win for RPM in July 2014 at Daytona, and also gave RPM their first Chase berth the same year.
CEO Moffitt explained the move in a team statement.
“At the conclusion of the 2016 season, we evaluated how to best improve our on-track product,” Moffitt said. “We feel that it’s in the best interest of our partners and for Richard Petty Motorsports to focus our resources on the No. 43 Ford Fusion and Aric (Almirola) in 2017.”
Following the sudden retirement of Brian Scott, the No.44 team was left without a driver after 2016. Albertson’s, who has family ties to Scott, left RPM following the retirement announcement. For 2017, the No.44 team will be on hiatus for the foreseeable future, with hopes of a resurrection in 2018.
“A concentrated effort on one team will position us for improvement while giving us adequate time to reestablish our two-car team in 2018,” Moffitt explained. “For the interim, we will lease one of our two charters.”
The charter for the No. 44 team will be leased to Go FAS Racing to guarantee their new driver, Matt DiBenedetto, a spot in all 36 points races.