- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Richard Petty Motorsports has hired Aric Almirola to drive the famed No. 43 in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup Series.

Almirola is leaving a job driving for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series to take over the car seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty made famous.

Almirola replaces AJ Allmendinger. He left the team last month to take a job at Penske Racing.

Almirola has 35 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series but none since he drove the last five races of the 2010 season. He finished a career-high fourth in the 2010 season finale at Homestead.

Almirola finished fourth last season in the Nationwide standings. JR Motorsports did not immediately announce a replacement.