Richard Petty Motorsports has hired race-winning crew chief Mike Ford to run the No. 43 car driven by Aric Almirola.
Ford, who spent the past six years as Denny Hamlin's crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing, winning 17 Cup races and making the Chase in every full season, will start working alongside Almirola immediately, beginning this weekend's race at Talladega.
Ford replaces Greg Erwin, who has been a crew chief at RPM since last summer, when he was named in the role for the same car, driven by AJ Allmendinger.
"Mike Ford is an elite crew chief who knows what it takes to be a winner at this level," said team owner Richard Petty. "We're fortunate that he was available and that we could reach a deal to bring him over to our place. We've taken a lot of big steps at Richard Petty Motorsports in the past year and I think this might be that one piece of the puzzle we were missing."
Almirola is currently ranked 23rd in the Cup driver standings, his best result being an eighth-place finish at Martinsville. His RPM teammate Marcos Ambrose ranks right ahead of him in points after nine races.
Although the 28-year-old Almirola has competed in Cup since 2007, this is his first full season at NASCAR's top level. Last year he finished fourth in the Nationwide Series standings, driving for JR Motorsports in his first shot at a full campaign in the second-tier series.
"I can't wait to start working with Mike," said Almirola. "Everyone in the garage respects him and knows what he's capable of. It's a goal of the 43 team to make the Chase this year and I think Mike's experience and knowledge can help get us there. We've got some ground to make up but I think we can do it."