Aric Almirola, sponsor sign extensions with Richard Petty Motorsports

Todd Warshaw

Driver Aric Almirola and sponsor Smithfield Foods have signed contract extensions with Richard Petty Motorsports through the 2016 season.

With various owners, drivers and sponsors continually shifting, the one constant with the No. 43 car through the years has been a lack of stability.

That constant upheaval is no longer, as Richard Petty Motorsports announced a pair of multi-year contract extensions Wednesday for driver Aric Almirola and sponsor Smithfield Foods.

Both extensions run through the 2016 season and involve increased sponsorship activation from Smithfield. This follows a pattern of the food company becoming more invested with RPM since beginning its relationship with the organization in 2012, as Smithfield has subsequently expanded its sponsorship from 15 events to 25 last season and now 29 races for the next three years.

"I believe in the power of NASCAR and Richard Petty Motorsports," said Smithfield CEO Larry Pope. "My challenge to RPM was to help Smithfield connect our brands with the sport's 80 plus million fans.

"I also expect that our increased investment will yield significant infrastructure steps that lead to our shared vision of Petty Rising to be realized."

That increase in sponsorship dollars has led to RPM focusing its efforts on a new research and development team to be led by NASCAR veteran engineer Scott McDougal.

Almirola, 29, is entering his third full season in NASCAR's top division -- all with RPM -- and has shown gradual progress in the previous two years. In 2013 he improved two positions in the standings from the year before to rank 18th in points and recorded a career-high six top-10 finishes.

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