When Aric Almirola won the first race of his career at Daytona in 2014, the main sponsor on his No. 43 Ford was the United States Air Force.
Now, with only two races left at Richard Petty Motorsports, Almirola will once again be driving a car covered in U.S. Air Force decals, which is fitting when you consider this Saturday is Veterans Day.
“It’s been an honor to work with the U.S. Air Force and to help host the many Generals and guests,” said Almirola, according to an official press release. “It’s been a humbling experience and something I’ve been really honored to do while at Richard Petty Motorsports. The men and women are fighting for our freedom, so we can race and go to the track each weekend. It’s always easy to say ‘thanks’ and meet them. It’s been rewarding for me.”
With Bubba Wallace taking over the No. 43 Ford starting next year, this will be Almirola’s final time piloting a U.S. Air Force stock car. Almirola has signed to drive the No. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018, which is the race car currently being driven by fan favorite Danica Patrick.
Richard Petty Motorsports is winless so far in 2017, so the most memorable moment this year for the team might have been when team owner Richard Petty spoke up after multiple NFL players protested during the National Anthem.
“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem ought to be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States,” Petty said in September, according to The Washington Post.
In 2017, there have been zero protests by NASCAR drivers during the national anthem, although Dale Jr. did Tweet his support for NFL players defending their right to peacefully protest.