Feb. 20, 2020
NASCAR : Richard Petty Motorsports 2017 Team Preview
This season will be different for Richard Petty Motorsports. The team will switch from two cars to one. Aric Almirola will continue to pilot the #43 Smithfield Foods Ford leading the way for RPM. Despite the fact that RPM will only field one car this season, the team should do way better than last season.
Last season was a disaster for RPM. RPM was only good enough to record 1 top five and 2 top tens. What even made it worse is that that 1 top five and 2 top tens came at the same race, Talladega. Brian Scott finished second and Almirola finished eighth. That performance was the only good thing that happened for RPM in 36 races.
Since RPM will only host one team in the Monster Energy Cup series this season, they should find more success. Now all the attention will be focused on the #43 Ford, driven by Aric Almirola. Almirola's crew chief for 2017 will be Drew Blickensderfer. In the cup series, Blickensderfer has recorded 3 wins, 16 top fives, 43 top tens, and 4 poles in 203 races (eight seasons). In the Xfinity series, he has recorded 12 wins, 45 top fives, 62 top tens, and 7 poles in 129 races (five seasons). Blickensderfer has the talent to lead the #43 team to the chase and compete for the championship.
RPM will also be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing in the Ford camp, so that major addition should help them. Not only has SHR moved to Ford, but RPM also has Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing in the Ford camp. Ford will be the manufacturer to beat this season.
Also, RPM announced that they will be expanding their garage in North Carolina, costing $2.4 million in investments. The expansion will create an extra 17 jobs in the next couple of years and renovations to the shop. The shop is where their chassis are built for custom cars for the 'King', Richard Petty.
I expect to see Almirola have fun in 2017. He will record 1 win, 8 top fives, and 15 top tens. He will not compete in the final four in the chase but will make at least the Round of 12. RPM will show us that they are not going to lay down and let these other teams take advantage of them.
Expect to see Richard Petty Motorsports have a breakout year in 2017. Will Almirola win 27 races this year like Richard Petty did in 1967, NO, but he will have a breakout year.