On Wednesday Richard Petty Motorsports announced in New York City that Aric Almirola and Smithfield will team up on the famous No. 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car through the 2016 season after the driver and sponsor signed extensions. Smithfield will serve as the primary sponsor now for 29 races a season each of the next three years.
The signing brings sponsorship stability to RPM for the first time in a long time.
"Not only are they investing in Richard Petty Motorsports, but they're investing in our performance, to help us to perform at the level we need to be competitive," Almirola said of Smithfield. "Because let's be real -- everybody's seen it for 100 years in racing: money buys speed. The teams with the most money, with the most resources, with all the right tools and right people, and that can afford the right people and the right parts and pieces, are successful. This is a huge step in that direction."
Almirola took over driving the No. 43 Ford for RPM at the start of the 2012 season. In that season, which was the first full-time effort in the Sprint Cup Series for him, he scored four top 10's and finished 20th in the driver point standings. In 2013 Almirola had six top 10's and finished 18th in points.
The No. 43 has not visited victory lane since the 1999 season when John Andretti won at Martinsville.
The contract for Almirola will be the first one for him that is not a one-year deal.
"This gives me the opportunity to be a lot more confident," Almirola said. "I'm not worried that if I make one mistake or whatever, that they're going to be looking to figure out the next guy that's going to come in and do better. It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that I have Richard Petty Motorsports behind me, and then obviously Smithfield Foods behind me and that they're committed to me and they support me."
Almirola, who will turn 30 in March, is a two-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series. Both of those wins came in the 2010 season when he drove for Billy Ballew Motorsports and finished second in the point standings. In 2007 Almirola was credited with a Nationwide Series win at Milwaukee when he started the race in a Joe Gibbs Racing car but was subbed out for Denny Hamlin who drove the car to the checkered flag. He finished fourth in points in 2011 driving for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series.
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