New hands to wheel familiar No. 43 in 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Aric Almirola was named driver of the famed No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports Wednesday.

Almirola finished fourth in the Nationwide Series standings this past season for JR Motorsports. He will replace AJ Allmendinger, who two weeks ago was named Kurt Busch's replacement in the No. 22 at Penske Racing.

"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 in a statement. "There is so much history surrounding that number and to have my name above the door will be really special for me."

Cole Whitt is expected to replace Almirola at JRM, sources said.

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