This could be the clearest sign yet that Aric Almirola is out at Richard Petty Motorsports.
Darrell Wallace Jr. and RPM have been linked for a while, as RPM has made no secret it wants Wallace to join its team, preferably as a second driver. But if RPM can't find enough sponsorship for him and Almirola, Almirola has long been rumored to be the odd man out -- a characterization RPM has not denied.
Now comes word that Wallace will drive the No. 98 car at ChicagoLand Speedway's XFinity race this weekend:
The importance here is that RPM helped put him in the car:
RPM wants both Almirola and Wallace next season, but may not have enough sponsorship to cover both. If that's the case, and RPM can only afford one driver, Almirola looks like he'll be looking for a new ride.
The source told ESPN that the rumors are "premature," but didn't rule it out.
The upheaval is part of the turbulent NASCAR times as team jockey for sponsorship position and figure out who can afford what. In this case, things could be be very different for RPM next season.