CONCORD, N.C. – Aric Almirola will make his return to NASCAR Nationwide Series competition for the first time since competing full-time in 2011 when he finished fourth in the point standings. Almirola will substitute for Michael Annett, who was injured in a crash at Daytona International Speedway, in the No. 43 Flying J Ford at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.
The Dollar General 200 will mark Almirola’s sixth Nationwide start at the one-mile track. The Tampa, Fla., native previously earned a pole award (2011) and a sixth-place finish (2010) at the Phoenix, Ariz., track.
Comments from Flying J Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola: “This is never a situation that you want to have. The most important thing is for Michael to get better and get back in the No. 43 Flying J Ford. I’m happy to step in for him this weekend as he recovers. This will make a busy weekend for me, but I am excited for the added track time. I really like Phoenix and have found some success in both Cup and Nationwide there.
“This will be the first race for Flying J to have primary placement on the car, so I hope we can bring home a top-five finish for them and for Michael. The 43 team is still competing for the Owner’s Championship, so I’d love to help make them and Michael proud.”
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Phoenix: “It’s an unfortunate situation to have Michael hurt, especially with the high hopes we had for this season. But, this is just a bump in the road. We will focus on the Owners Championship this season and getting Michael back in the car.
“We finished in the top-10 both races last season and have a brand new car we are running this weekend. I think our car will be competitive, and Aric will do a good job wheeling it. Our short track program was really good last year; we didn’t finish outside the top-15, so that should continue this season.”
Chassis History: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 743 for Phoenix. This is a new chassis the team built in the off-season.