Almirola to Race No. 41 at Martinsville

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The car was unveiled today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame with Maurice Petty, his brother "The King" Richard Petty, Almirola and Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell all present. Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director, led the ceremonies in Charlotte, N.C.

Richard Petty Motorsports will make special tribute this weekend to the latest Petty family member to be elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The team announced today that current driver Aric Almirola will race a No. 41 Ford Fusion this weekend at the Martinsville Speedway, replacing the traditional No. 43. The No. 41 Ford will be Petty Blue and feature the likeness of 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Maurice Petty, who raced the number during his driving career.

The car was unveiled today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame with Maurice Petty, his brother "The King" Richard Petty, Almirola and Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell all present. Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director, led the ceremonies in Charlotte, N.C.

Maurice used the No. 41 for nine starts over his five-year driving career from 1960 to 1964. During that span, Petty entered 26 race events and finished in the top-10 in 16 of those. Maurice also earned seven top-five finishes with a best result of third in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1961. Maurice used the No. 41, staying consistent with the family heritage of racing subsequent numbers in the 40's. His father, Lee, raced the No. 42 and his brother, Richard, raced No. 43.

Maurice was a driver, crew chief and a car owner, but is most known for being the engine builder for the family's operation. Maurice developed his craft in the engine room learning from his father, Lee, as he helped the family business win three championships with Lee. He then came into his own and was the horsepower behind the seven championships of Petty Enterprises and also behind 212 wins with drivers such as Richard Petty, Jim Paschal, Marvin Panch and Buddy Baker. Maurice was the crew chief for Pete Hamilton during the 1970 Daytona 500 which he won. Maurice later built engines in the Truck Series and played a role in the return of Dodge to the sport in 2001.

Maurice is the third Petty to be elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame following his father and brother. He is also the first to enter under the merits as an engine builder.

"It's an honor to see the No. 41 on the side of a Petty Blue machine," said Maurice. "It brings back a lot of memories and reminds me of my driving days too. I finally decided that I liked working on the engines and behind the scenes more and that's where I ended up staying. It worked out for all of us and it's nice to see the recognition this weekend, especially at a track where we won so much."

Maurice helped lead Petty Enterprises to 15 wins at Martinsville Speedway. The NASCAR Hall of Fame trio of Maurice, Richard and Dale won five consecutive races at the track from 1968 to 1971. Almirola, who has a Sprint Cup Series best finish of fourth at Martinsville, is eager to showcase the car this weekend.

"It's a real privilege to drive this No. 41 and pay tribute to Maurice this weekend," commented Almirola. "He was the man behind the scenes and the power of Petty Enterprises. He set the bar that engine builders aspire to achieve today. Beyond that, Maurice did a lot to contribute to the sport including driving. It's cool that we could take his number and put it on our car this weekend."

Campbell is also anxious to see the No. 41 race at the track he owns this weekend.

"You can't say enough about the history of Petty and Martinsville Speedway," said Campbell. "A large part of the success was due to Maurice. He's a legend of our sport and we're going to welcome him this weekend at the track. Like many Petty racing fans we have in our area, this car will help bring back a lot of great memories."

Richard Petty Motorsports will use the No. 41 this weekend only and collect owner and driver points under the No. 43. The change of car number was approved by NASCAR.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Aric Almirola

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Fast Fact

The last time the No. 43 was not in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 26, 2003 when Jeff Green failed to qualify for the race.

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