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Almirola in at Richard Petty Motorsports

Aric Almirola has been signed as the new driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports #43 car, replacing AJ Allmendinger who has moved to Penske Racing for 2012.
Aric Almirola has signed to race with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2012, following last month's decision by AJ Allmendinger to move to Penske Racing.

Almirola will drive the team's #43 entry, and will be racing alongside his new RPM team mate Marcos Ambrose in a full-time deal for 2012.

"This is the first real opportunity I've had to drive in the Cup Series full-time," said Almirola, who has 35 Cup series starts to his name but had to settle for competing in the Nationwide Series in 2011 for Dale Earnhart Jr's JR Motorsports operation in the #88.

"One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the #43," said Almirola. "There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me.

"Last year the #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."

"We are thrilled to welcome Aric Almirola into the RPM family," Richard Petty said. "We felt Aric would be the best fit for the team and for our current and potential partners ... 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."

The 27-year-old Florida native's last Cup race was the 2012 season finale, in which he sealed a career-high fourth-place when he took the wheel of the RPM #9 car after Kasey Kahne was released early from his contract with the team.

Almirola made his NASCAR national d├ębut in 2005 in the Truck Series and moved into Nationwide racing the following year driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He moved to Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2008 to run a part-time Cup season before returning to Truck competition and finishing as runner-up in 2010. He finished in fourth place in the 2011 Nationwide series.

Almirola will be replacing AJ Allmendinger, who opted to move to Penske Racing in the face of mounting speculation that RPM were seeking to replace him a big name driver like Kurt Busch in order to boost hopes of retaining existing primary sponsor Best Buy. That strategy did not work out for RPM, with Busch opting to sign instead with Phoenix Racing and Best Buy taking its money to Roush Fenway Racing, leaving the team seeking both a new driver and a new main sponsor.




Related Pictures

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Aric Almirola, Steve Wallace, Danica Patrick, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and  Mike Wallace in a multiple-car wreck on the final lap of the Subway Jalapeno 250 Nationwide race at Daytona International Speedway, July 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #33 Rheem Heating, Cooling & Water Heating Chevrolet, lead Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 88 Grand Touring Vodka Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series New England 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16 in Loudon, N.H. [Picture Credit: Elsa/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Aric Almirola in the JR Motorsports #88 garage during testing at Daytona International Speedway. [Picture credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Aric Almirola climbing out of his car at Lucas Oil Raceway, Indianapolis. [Picture credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Aric Almirola at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. [Picture credit: Elsa/Getty Images for NASCAR
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet, leads during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series car driven by Ty Dillon. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ty Dillon with his team owner and grandfaster Richard Childress at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7 2014. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field out of the pits during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola (R), driver of the #43 Charter Ford, inspects his car after crashing during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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