Almirola to Pilot No. 43 at RPM
January 4, 2012 | 10:44 A.M. EST
“One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the No. 43." (Photo: Getty Images)
Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that Aric Almirola will drive the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition beginning in 2012.
Almirola has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series, his most recent stint coming in 2010 when he finished the last five races of the season in the No. 9 Ford. During the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Tampa, Fla., native posted a career-high, fourth-place effort. Almirola drove a JR Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011 and capped off a successful season with a fourth-place finish in the championship point standings.
“One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the No. 43,” stated Almirola. “There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me.
“This is the first real opportunity I’ve had to drive in the Cup Series full time,” continued Almirola. “Last year the No. 43 team had a lot of speed and was competitive on a weekly basis. Greg Erwin is a great crew chief and I’m excited to work with him. Everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports has a lot of enthusiasm and drive and I’m really looking forward to getting to work.”
Almirola will join a team that is poised to compete for a spot in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Paired with veteran Crew Chief Greg Erwin, Almirola will get behind the wheel for a team that earned one top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2011 en route to a 15th-place finish in the owner point standings.
“We are thrilled to welcome Aric Almirola into the RPM family,” said team Co-owner Richard Petty. “We feel extremely fortunate to have had a number of very talented drivers interested in joining our organization, but ultimately we felt Aric would be the best fit for the team and for our current and potential partners. We have had the chance to watch his progress for the past several years and we had success with him in the past. We are really confident in his potential as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. We think Aric has all the makings to be the next bright star in our sport.”
Almirola began his racing career competing in go-karts before joining the open-wheel modified ranks in 2000. He was an original member of the Joe Gibbs Racing/Reggie White Drive for Diversity program. Almirola made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in 2005 and began his Nationwide Series career in 2006, driving for JGR. Almirola drove a part-time Cup Series schedule for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 2008 before heading back to the Truck Series and earning a runner-up finish in the point standings in 2010. Almirola drove full time for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series in 2011.