MOORESVILLE, N.C. – In the wake of losing their main sponsor at the end of the season, Richard Petty Motorsports is officially also on the hunt for a new driver.
Just hours after the official announcement that longtime sponsor Smithfield Foods would be leaving to head to Ford rival Stewart-Haas Racing for next year, RPM confirmed that Aric Almirola is also not returning to the team in 2018.
Almirola and Smithfield joined RPM as a pair ahead of the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, and while it took them time to gel in the No. 43 Ford, Almirola eventually found his stride.
The Tampa, Fla. native won his lone Cup race to-date at Daytona Int’l Speedway in July of 2014, locking himself into that season’s playoffs as a result of the victory. Almirola went on to finish a career-high 16th in points at the end of the year, after being eliminated in the opening round.
During his six-year tenure with RPM, Almirola has earned the Daytona victory, nine top-fives and 27 top-10s, as well as the pole for the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Almirola was forced to sit out for eight races this season following a frightening crash at Kansas Speedway on May 13, where he suffered a compression fracture of the T5 vertebra in his back due to a lap 199 crash in the Go Bowling 400. He spent two months recovering before returning to competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16.
His best finish since returning from injury is a 12th-place run at Michigan Int’l Speedway in August.
No announcement was made Tuesday afternoon regarding Almirola’s potential landing spot for next season, but it is widely anticipated that he will join Smithfield at Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2018 season.
Danica Patrick announced her departure from SHR on Tuesday, which frees up a seat at the four-car squad and could open the door for Almirola to replace her at the 2014 championship-winning organization.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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