The No. 43 seat wasn't vacant for very long. When the news broke that AJ Allmendinger was out of his ride due to lack of sponsorship, many wondered who would take his place. That's when the rumor mill started turning. People thought since Kurt Busch didn't have a ride yet, he would take over for Allmendinger, but when it was announced that he was going to Phoenix Racing, people were thinking that David Ragan, David Reutimann, or Brian Vickers could take his place. This wasn't the case.
Before the holidays, people started to speculate that Aric Almirola was the leading candidate for the No. 43 ride - and that he was.
It was announced today by Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) that Aric Almirola would indeed be piloting the No. 43 in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012, alongside current RPM driver, Marcos Ambrose. The RPM family welcomes Almirola with open arms with Richard Petty stating, "We have had the chance to watch his [Aric] 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 was also very excited when asked about his feelings, "One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the No. 43. There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me."
Almirola, however, is not a newbie to the Sprint Cup Series garage. In the past, he has raced in thirty-five Sprint Cup Series races, most recently in the No. 9 at the end of the 2010 season when Kasey Kahne decided to quit with five races to go. Aric took this opportunity to prove himself and finished fourth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Greg Erwin, who was formerly Allmendinger's crew chief, will stay with RPM and transition over to become Almirola's crew chief. "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."
No sponsors for the No. 43 have been announced, mainly because they still had a few races that don't have a sponsor, but the official sponsor announcements should be made in a few weeks.
We wish Aric the best of luck as he embarks on a new journey in his NASCAR career.