Tag:Aric Almirola
Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 5:02 pm

2012 Daytona 500 predictions

Daytona 500 Winner

Pete Pistone's pick

Kyle Busch -- I’ve been coming to Daytona since I was a kid and watching NASCAR racing pretty much my entire life. Never have I seen a display like the one Kyle Busch put on in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saving his car three different times when it was completely sideways and somehow coming back from that shower of sparks to win the race. Say what you want about his personality or his behavior but it’s impossible to argue that Busch is one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever seen. He is very determined to put the controversy of last year behind and focus on winning races and the Sprint Cup championship in 2012. That quest begins this weekend and Busch will get the year off on the highest of notes with a win in “The Great American Race.”

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Carl Edwards -- I could really name just about any driver from the Roush Fenway camp as they've been very impressive during Speedweeks. Its drivers have been at or near the top of the speed charts during most practices, Edwards and his teammate Greg Biffle were top 2 in qualifying and third teammate Kenseth won Gatorade Duel 2, an event Biffle led for a race-high 40 laps. But while championships may elude Edwards, the Daytona 500 might just land in his lap. If Edwards can pull it off, he'd be the 18th pole-sitter to win the 500 and the first since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Dark Horse

Pete Pistone's pick

Marcos Ambrose -- The entire Ford contingent has been fast at Daytona since it rolled off the haulers at the start of Speedweeks. Ambrose is among those who have stayed near the top of speed chart in practice sessions and the Richard Petty Motorsports driver also factored into both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel outcomes. The popular Australian feels at home in NASCAR after finding his way the last few seasons and many believe he’ll win his first oval track race in 2012 in addition to being a powerhouse on the road courses. That victory could come on Sunday with Ambrose giving his fans both in the U.S. as well as “down under” something to celebrate.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Trevor Bayne -- The defending Daytona 500 champion as a darkhorse? I may be stretching this a bit, but I haven't heard anybody giving him much of a chance to repeat. He's been decent during Speedweeks, but remains somewhat of an afterthought behind the Cup regulars. He's flying under the radar, but has the car to pull of the win again. At the very least, you can say he has experience winning NASCAR's biggest race. How wild would it be if Bayne were to make it 2 for 2 in the Daytona 500?

Surprise Top 10

Pete Pistone's pick

Dave Blaney -- The former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion had a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500 thanks to his finish inside the Top 35 last year. But after team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to transfer those points to Danica Patrick, Blaney had to race his way into the 500 in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel. Last season the underdog turned a lot of heads with stellar restrictor plate track performances at both Daytona and Talladega so Blaney has skills in the draft. He may also have a little extra motivation as well on Sunday after the off-season points maneuvering and despite being a David against the Goliaths of the series; a finish inside the first ten is not out of the question.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Aric Almirola -- It's easy to forget that Almirola is the newest driver of the No. 43 car, replacing A.J. Allmendinger, who jumped to Penske Racing to fill the No. 22 seat vacated by Kurt Busch. He definitely has speed as he topped the fourth practice session and was second in the fifth session. Another driver with Ford power under the hood, don't be surprised to see him running near the front on Sunday.

Quick picks

  Pistone De Los Santos
Better Busch brother finish Kyle Kurt
Will Danica finish on lead lap No No
Over/Under Caution Flags (8) Under Under
Over/Under Caution Laps (25) Over Over
Over/Under Leaders (20) Over Under
Over/Under Lead Changes (50) Under Over

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 22, 2012 4:28 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 5:00 pm

Second Wednesday practice to Aric Almirola

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Ford kept running the table Wednesday afternoon with another of the manufacturer's drivers leading the day's second Daytona 500 practice session.

Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola topped the practice with a fast lap of 199.712 mph. Ford drivers have led every practice session of Speedweeks in addition to Carl Edwards' Daytona 500 pole-winning run on Sunday.

David Stremme, Regan Smith, Robert Richardson and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five as only 25 cars participated in the final tune-up before Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying races.

Kasey Kahne crashed after receiving contact while drafting with Juan Pablo Montoya and will start a back-up car in his Duel.

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: January 12, 2012 4:39 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 5:17 pm

Petty says sponsor didn't want Kurt Busch

By Pete Pistone

Richard Petty Motorsports was interested in the possibility of adding Kurt Busch to its stable to take the reigns of the No. 43 Ford as a replacement for A.J. Allmendinger.

But ultimately it was the team's sponsor who nixed the deal.

Team owner Richard Petty said Smithfield Foods, who signed on to back new driver Aric Almirola for fifteen races this season, wasn't interested in associating the company with Busch at the time.

"Nobody at that time, [they] didn’t want to pay the bill for him,” Petty said. “That’s just how simple it was. Everybody has got to protect their brand. Smithfield has a pretty good, laid-back, down-home persona with the general public. Taking him on, it could change.

“They just didn’t like the personality. … About everybody we talked to, they said, ‘Maybe in six months or a year.’”

Smithfield, who will co-sponsor the iconic 43 with the Air Force this coming season, did like Almirola and was pleased the former Nationwide and truck series driver wound up in the seat.

Almirola's stint for the team in 2010 when he finished the year for Kasey Kahne left a lasting impression on the Petty organization.

“Everybody was impressed with what he did, how he’d done it, how he got along with the crew and how he communicated back to let them know what’s going on with the car,” Petty said.

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:51 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 5:18 pm

Petty signs Smithfield Foods for No. 43 Ford

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Daytona Beach, Fla. (January 12, 2012) – Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) and Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) announced today that the consumer packaged foods company headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia has entered into a multiyear, integrated partnership with the legendary Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR team starting in 2012. 

As part of its agreement with Richard Petty Motorsports, Smithfield will be utilizing a number of its core brands as well as unique and engaging promotional initiatives throughout this racing season to communicate with existing customers and introduce others to the company’s many fine products. In addition, NASCAR fans will see a variety of Smithfield brands adorning the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion as primary sponsor in fifteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in 2012, including the first event of the season, February’s Daytona 500. Smithfield brands include Farmland<sup>®</sup>, Eckrich<sup>®</sup> and Curly’s<sup>®</sup>, among others, as well as Helping Hungry Homes™, one of Smithfield’s premier community-outreach brands. 

Smithfield<sup>®</sup> and Helping Hungry Homes™ will be Smithfield’s featured brands for the Daytona 500. Helping Hungry Homes™ is Smithfield’s initiative focused on alleviating hunger across America. The initiative provided more than eight million servings of protein last year through food banks, school nutrition programs, disaster relief, and community outreach programs. “Making a positive impact on our communities is one of our core values at Smithfield,” said C. Larry Pope, Smithfield’s president and chief executive officer. 

For Smithfield Foods, partnering now with the Petty organization is a natural fit. “We had been in discussions internally about entering NASCAR with the Petty’s as so many of our customers are true blue fans of the sport and of the Petty’s,” stated Mr. Pope. “However, with the recent events that have affected the Petty organization, we felt it was only right to step up our efforts now to support them, as well as dedicate time and resources to bring some exciting initiatives with our brands to NASCAR fans,” said Pope. “In the coming months, we will be announcing plans and programs both on and off the track to reach and engage our customers and local communities that are so important to us,” added Pope.

“This partnership with Smithfield Foods is part of the beginning of a new chapter for the No. 43 team,” commented Petty. “We appreciate that they saw something special in the Petty family and in Richard Petty Motorsports as a whole and made the decision to take the partnership to a higher level right out of the box. The folks at Smithfield have a solid plan in place to utilize their sponsorship in some very exciting ways and we’re looking forward to working with them in 2012 and beyond.”

Aric Almirola was recently named as the driver of the famed No. 43 Ford and will make his debut in the Richard Petty Motorsports owned entry at Daytona International Speedway.

“I’m looking forward to representing the Smithfield brands,” said Almirola. “They have some great things planned and I am happy to be a part of it.”

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:10 am

Petty signs Aric Almirola for No. 43 ride

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

CONCORD, N.C. (Jan. 4, 2012) – Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that Aric Almirola will drive the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition beginning in 2012. 

Almirola has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series, his most recent stint coming in 2010 when he finished the last five races of the season in the No. 9 Ford. During the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Tampa, Fla., native posted a career-high, fourth-place effort. Almirola drove a JR Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011 and capped off a successful season with a fourth-place finish in the championship point standings. 

“One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the No. 43,” stated Almirola. “There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me. 

“This is the first real opportunity I’ve had to drive in the Cup Series full time,” continued Almirola. “Last year the No. 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.” 

Almirola will join a team that is poised to compete for a spot in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Paired with veteran Crew Chief Greg Erwin, Almirola will get behind the wheel for a team that earned one top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2011 en route to a 15<sup>th</sup>-place finish in the owner point standings.

“We are thrilled to welcome Aric Almirola into the RPM family,” said team Co-owner Richard Petty. “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. We have had the chance to watch his 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 began his racing career competing in go-karts before joining the open-wheel modified ranks in 2000. He was an original member of the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR)/Reggie White Drive for Diversity program. Almirola made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in 2005 and began his Nationwide Series career in 2006, driving for JGR. Almirola drove a part-time Cup Series schedule for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 2008 before heading back to the Truck Series and earning a runner-up finish in the point standings in 2010. Almirola drove full time for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series in 2011.

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 11:25 am

Almirola reportedly headed to Petty's No. 43

By Pete Pistone

The Charlotte Observer is reporting Aric Almirola will take the wheel of Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 Ford for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

According to the paper the deal, which has come together very quickly, will be officially announced after the Christmas and New Year's holidays and will include a sponsor announcement.

Almirola, was set to begin his second full season with JR Motorsports' #88 team in 2012, but his move to the Cup series now leaves his future with that organization unclear.

A spokesperson for RPM told the paper Friday night the organization did plan to make a driver announcement for the ride after the holidays but would have no other comment at this time. 

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:35 pm

RPM gives Kahne the boot

On Saturday night Kasey Kahne walked out on his No. 9 team after a crash at Charlotte, saying he was too sick to get back behind the wheel of his damaged car.

On Wednesday, Richard Petty Motorsports told him to keep on walking.

Kahne was already set to leave at season's end, driving for Red Bull Racing next year before joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. However, with his early release, he will get head start on his relationship with Red Bull, jumping into the No. 83 car this weekend at Martinsville.

Aric Almirola , who was originally scheduled to fill the No. 83 seat at Martinsville, will instead take Kahne's place in the No. 9 car.

This shakeup could set more dominos in motion, possibly paving the way for Marcos Ambrose to arrive early if JTG Daugherty will grant him his release. Ambrose was signed as Kahne's replacement in the No. 9 car for next season.

And if JTG does allow Ambrose to leave, his replacement for next year, Bobby Labonte , could then jump into the No. 47.

-- Brian De Los Santos
Posted on: August 18, 2010 11:39 am
Edited on: August 18, 2010 3:13 pm

JR Motorsports signs Almirola to multi-year deal

Aric Almirola , whose has struggled to find a permanent home during his short NASCAR career, has signed a multi-year contract to drive the No. 88 car for JR Motorsports starting in 2011.

Since 2005, Almirola has raced sporadically in NASCAR's top three series. He finally got a chance to show his wares this year, running full time for Billy Ballew in the Truck Series where he is second in points with two wins, five top fives and 11 top 10s through 15 races.

At one point, Almirola was a developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, but the relationship soured shortly after a Nationwide race at Milwaukee in 2007. Almirola was filling in for Denny Hamlin, who had not arrived on time for the start of the race. He started from the pole and was running strong, but was pulled once Hamlin arrived at the track. Hamlin went on to win the race, though officially Almirola was credited with the victory.

Almirola thought he was moving to a good situation with a Cup ride at Dale Earnhardt Inc., but it turned out it was just about the time turmoil was creating dysfunction throughout the organization. Sponsorship never materialized and after parts of three seasons with DEI, he lost his ride. He eventually filed a breach of contract notice against Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and DEI, but later dropped his complaint.

JR Motorsports has been looking for the next great developmental driver since Brad Keselowski's departure following the 2009 season. They've had a quick hook thus far. After Kelly Bires failed to make his mark, he was yanked after just five races. Since then they've gone with a driver by committee, with veterans Jamie McMurray and Elliott Sadler getting a majority of the duty. Almirola has even filled in for one race this year, finishing third at O'Reilly Raceway Park last month.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Press release follows:

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 18, 2010) - JR Motorsports cemented an integral part of its future Wednesday by signing Aric Almirola to a multi-year driving contract for the company's flagship No. 88 NASCAR Nationwide Series team starting in 2011, general manager Kelley Earnhardt announced today.
A 26-year-old native of Tampa, Fla., Almirola has 32 career Nationwide Series starts, including one for JR Motorsports in which he finished third at O'Reilly Raceway Park in July.  Almirola's full-time duties as the No. 88 driver will officially begin in 2011, but he could potentially fill the seat in select races this season while he continues to run for a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.
"The chance to drive full time in the Nationwide Series with a top caliber team is something I am extremely excited about," Almirola said.  "I was at the shop yesterday, and Kelley gathered all the employees around to announce our deal.  The energy and excitement was addicting.  We raced at ORP together a month ago and had a really good run.  There is no reason why we cannot compete like that every race, and there is no reason why we shouldn't be running for a championship.  I would expect nothing less."
Almirola comes to JR Motorsports with proven credentials.  In 2006-07, he competed in the Nationwide Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, earning three poles and six top-10s.  He is credited with one victory - the June 23, 2007, race at Milwaukee Mile - in which he and Denny Hamlin shared seat time in the victorious No. 20 car.  That performance was part of a successful 2007 campaign, which opened doors to a lifelong dream of racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Dale Earnhardt Inc. signed Almirola to a part-time driving deal in 2008 with the unique task of splitting seat time with one of NASCAR's all-time greats, Mark Martin.  Nineteen of Almirola's 30 Sprint Cup starts came with DEI (later to become Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing).  In his very first race of the 2008 season, Almirola scored a career-best Sprint Cup finish of eighth at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Almirola continued racing in sporadic Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in 2009 and 2010, but the opportunity to compete full-time this year with Billy Ballew Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series was too good to pass up.  In 15 races so far this season, Almirola has two wins (Dover on May 14 and Michigan on June 12) and has finished in the top-10 in all but four events.  He currently sits second in the championship point standings.
"If there is a quintessential JR Motorsports driver, we feel it's Aric Almirola," Kelley Earnhardt said.  "The way he drives, the ambition he carries, the way he represents himself on and off the track, it all fits within our company's dynamics, our core objectives, and the values of our sponsorship partners.   We look forward to putting him in our No. 88 car so he can continue his success."
Almirola's one stint for JRM took place on July 24 at O'Reilly Raceway Park.  He started the Kroger 200 in sixth position, led one lap, ran among the top-five all night, and finished third in his debut in the No. 88 GT Vodka Chevrolet.  Almirola is one of 10 drivers who has or will have raced the No. 88 Chevrolet at least once in 2010.  Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the No. 88 Realtree Outdoors Chevrolet at Bristol this Friday night in the Food City 250.
"This has been a far different year than anything we have ever experienced before, but we feel like our decision to take our time and not be rushed into naming a full-schedule driver for the No. 88 paid off with the signing of Aric," Kelley Earnhardt said.  "He brings a lot to the table for us, as well as our sponsors.  He is someone they can build their brands around, and he has the talent to take them to the Winner's Circle."


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