Aric Almirola will finally get a chance to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports fulltime in 2012.
On Wednesday morning, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Aric Almirola has been named the driver of the famed No. 43 that the organization founder made famous.
“One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the No. 43,”Almirola said in a press release. “There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be special for me.”
Almirola, who finished fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series points standings for JR Motorsports, takes over the Ford team that had been A.J. Allmendinger’s. As you will recall, Allmendinger left Richard Petty Motorsports two weeks ago to replace Kurt Busch at Penske Racing.
This isn’t the first time Almirola has been behind the wheel of a Richard Petty Motorsports car. In 2010, he drove the final five races in the No. 9 after Kasey Kahne moved to Red Bull Racing. He has made 35 Sprint Cup starts and his career best is fourth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While he hasn’t run a full season in NASCAR’s premier series, Almirola predicted he would be a top 15 driver at RPM with a shot at making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“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,” team co-owner Richard Petty said in a statement. “We have had the chance to watch his progress for the past several years and we had success with him in the past.”
Almirola will be paired with crew chief veteran, Greg Erwin. As of now sponsorship for the No. 43 has not been determined. Best Buy announced it was leaving to sponsor Matt Kenseth for nine races and Carl Edwards for two races at Roush-Fenway Racing.