The 42-year-old Morristown, Tenn., native spent the past six seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing as Hamlin’s crew chief. In that span, he led his team to 17 wins, 66 top-five finishes and 108 top-10 finishes and never missed a Chase appearance. The 12-year Sprint Cup veteran also previously held crew chief roles for Dale Jarrett at Robert Yates Racing and Bill Elliott at Evernham Motorsports.
“Mike Ford is an elite crew chief who knows what it takes to be a winner at this level,” said team owner Richard Petty. “We’re fortunate that he was available and that we could reach a deal to bring him over to our place. We’ve taken a lot of big steps at Richard Petty Motorsports in the past year and I think this might be that one piece of the puzzle we were missing.”
In eight races with Petty, Almirola has one top-10 and one top-15 finish in the 2012 Sprint Cup season.
“I can’t wait to start working with Mike,” Almirola said. “Everyone in the garage respects him and knows what he’s capable of. It’s a goal of the 43 team to make the Chase this year and I think Mike’s experience and knowledge can help get us there. We’ve got some ground to make up but I think we can do it.”
Ford said he is also looking forward to join forces with Petty and Almirola.
“Richard Petty Motorsports has proven to be a winning organization with the potential to be a Chase contender,” said Ford. “Sammy Johns has built a solid foundation from a competition standpoint and I’m looking forward to working with Aric and the rest of the team.”
Ford replaces Greg Erwin, who joined the team in mid-2011.