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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 début 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
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, leads Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 8, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during Service King qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Clorox Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, October 30, 2015 for Sunday`s first round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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