Crew chief Ford returns to Cup racing

Richard Petty Motorsports has hired veteran crew chief Mike Ford to take over the role with Aric Almirola and the organization’s No. 43 team.

Ford replaces Greg Erwin, who joined the team in 2011.

Ford led Denny Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing team to six consecutive runs in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, but parted ways with the group at the end of last season. Ford will join the Petty team immediately and will be atop the pit box in Talladega Superspeedway.

Ford, 42, led Hamlin’s team to 17 wins, 66 top-five finishes and 108 top-10 finishes. Before that, he worked as a crew chief with 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,” team owner Richard Petty said in a news release. “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 finish and is 24th in the standings

“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.”

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