JR Motorsports made it official on Wednesday morning. Aric Almirola has signed a multi-year deal to drive the team’s No. 88 Nationwide Series entry, beginning in 2011.
“The chance to drive full-time in the Nationwide Series with a top-caliber team is something I am extremely excited about,” Almirola said.
Almirola is currently a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, driving a truck for Billy Ballew Motorsports. As of now, he occupies the second spot in the driver points standings in that series with two wins, five top-fivess and 11 top-10s in 15 starts so far this season.
Almirola also has Nationwide experience, including driving for JR Motorsports. He has 32 career Nationwide Series starts, with one of them being for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned team at O’Reilly Raceway Park in July of this year. He finished third in that race. While this latest agreement takes effect at the start of the 2011 season, there is a possibility that Almirola could be behind the wheel of the No. 88 for additional races throughout the remainder of 2010.
JR Motorsports’ No. 88 entry has had several drivers this season. Since Brad Keselowski vacated the ride at the conclusion of 2009, 10 drivers — including Almirola — have been behind the wheel of the car this year.
“If there is a quintessential JR Motorsports driver, we feel it’s Aric Almirola,” team general manager Kelley Earnhardt said. “The way he drives, the ambition he carries, the way he represents himself on and off the track, it all fits within our company’s dynamics, our core objectives, and the values of our sponsorship partners.”
Almirola raced in the Nationwide Series part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2006 and 2007, sharing a ride with Sprint Cup Series regular Denny Hamlin. During that time, Almirola was credited with a win at the Milwaukee Mile in 2007, because he started a race in the shared ride with Hamlin, but Hamlin finished the race and was the driver who piloted that car into victory lane.
“We look forward to putting him in our No. 88 car, so he can continue his success,” Earnhardt said.
Almirola also has 30 Sprint Cup Series starts on his racing resume. Nineteen of those starts were for the team Earnhardt Jr. started his NASCAR career with and the team Earnhardt Jr.’s father, the late Dale Earnhardt, started — Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — in 2008. He continued to compete sporadically in the Cup Series in 2009 and early on this year, starting 2010 with a Sprint Cup Series deal at Phoenix Racing.
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