Cup champion offers Darrell Wallace Jr. encouraging words

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Darrell Wallace Jr., who is making his NASCAR Cup debut in Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford at Pocono Raceway, said he received an unexpected message after being announced as Aric Almirola’s fill-in earlier this week.

Jimmie Johnson reached out pretty much as soon as we announced it,’’ Wallace said. “He said, ‘See you on Sundays now, bro.’ 

“I was like, ‘Alright, that’s cool. That’s really cool.’ He said that if I needed anything to reach out to him, so I’m going to try to meet up with him … just to ask him what do I need to expect. 

“There’s nothing to it. At the end of the day, it’s just a race car with a little bit more horsepower, a little bit bigger venue, a little bit bigger crowd. I’ve been waiting for this moment for 15 years or however long I’ve been racing, a long time, and now it’s finally here, so it’s just another stroll in the park.”

Aric Almirola suffered a T5 compression fracture in a May 13 crash at Kansas Speedway. Shortly after the accident, the team stated Almirola was expected to be out two to three months.

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