Aric Almirola is the new driver of NASCAR's legendary No. 43 car.
Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that the car which co-owner Petty made famous will now belong to Almirola, as the 27-year-old moves over from JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series.
No sponsorship was announced for the car, the future of which seemed in doubt after former driver AJ Allmendinger departed in part because funding was unable to be secured for the season.
Petty was impressed by Almirola's performance in a fill-in role while driving for the team after Kasey Kahne left early in 2010.
"We feel extremely fortunate to have had a number of very talented drivers interested in joining our organization, but ultimately we felt Aric would be the best fit for the team and for our current and potential partners," Petty said. "We have had the chance to watch his progress for the past several years and we had success with him in the past.
"We are really confident in his potential as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. We think Aric has all the makings to be the next bright star in our sport."
Almirola finished fourth in the Nationwide standings last season. He has two top-10 finishes in 35 career Sprint Cup Series starts, including a fourth-place finish in the aforementioned RPM fill-in role.
"One of the things I am most excited about is to have the chance to drive a car as iconic as the No. 43," Almirola said. "There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me."
Greg Erwin will remain as crew chief for the team, which finished 15th in the point standings last season.
JR Motorsports must now fill Almirola's seat in the No. 88 Nationwide car, but the team has reportedly already decided to go with youngster Cole Whitt.