Trent Owens takes over as Almirola’s Sprint Cup crew chief

Trent Owens is the latest Nationwide Series crew chief to get a full-time shot at the NASCAR Sprint Cup level.

Owens will lead the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team with driver Aric Almirola.

Owens, a former race car driver turned crew chief, most recently guided the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports team with rookie Kyle Larson. The team finished eighth in the NNS standings.

Although the 37-year-old Davidson, N.C.-native is Richard Petty’s nephew, Owens proved himself as a crew chief over the last decade by guiding five different drivers to Victory Lane, including Dave Blaney to his only NASCAR win (2006). He also earned victories with Mark Martin, James Buescher, Reed Sorenson and Nelson Piquet Jr. over the last two seasons.

Almirola finished a career-high 18th in his second full season on the Cup tour with RPM. Although he started the season with Todd Parrott on the pit box, the veteran crew chief was suspended on Oct. 17 for violation of NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy. He was released by RPM on Oct. 21, but has since completed the Road to Recovery program.