Aric Almirola has been named to replace AJ Allmendinger aboard Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 Ford for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
The No. 43 entry has yet to announce its sponsorship plans for the season, but Almirola will be paired with crew chief Greg Erwin. Almirola also deputized for Kasey Kahne at the end of the 2010 season when Kahne left RPM to head to Red Bull Racing, making four starts in the team's No. 9 Ford.
Almirola has driven in parts of several Sprint Cup seasons, but only has 35 career starts. His longest stint came in a part-time role for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2008, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in that team's No. 8 Chevrolet. He moves back to the Cup level after driving for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011, with a fourth-place finish in points despite not winning a race.
"This is the first real opportunity I've had to drive in the Cup Series full time. 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."