Aric Almirola drives his car during qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 auto race in Concord, N.C., Thursday, May 24, 2012. Almirola won the pole position. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
CONCORD, N.C. (release) -- The U.S. Air Force will once again partner with Richard Petty Motorsports to connect with America's best and brightest young adults. The U.S. Air Force will serve as an associate sponsor on Aric Almirola's No. 43 Ford for the entire 2013 season and as a primary sponsor at the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Fourth of July weekend race at Daytona International Speedway.
The star-studded Air Force paint scheme adorned the historic No. 43 Ford for the same two marquee races in 2012 - the Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte), where Almirola earned his first career pole, and the Coke Zero 400 (Daytona).
The Air Force will also continue its experiential marketing activities at NASCAR events, air shows and festivals throughout the year, taking the No. 43 U.S. Air Force Ford show car and "Hangar 43" interactive display to environments where recruiters can connect with young adults. It will also continue to hold swear-in ceremonies of Airmen in the Delayed Entry Program at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, giving fans an up-close, in-person look at the moment when groups of young Americans commit themselves to their country.
Almirola, who was born on Eglin (Fla.) Air Force Base and whose father served in the Air Force, will participate in the at-track swear-in ceremonies and recognizes the value of the partnership as a whole.
"I'm really proud of how Richard Petty Motorsports helps connect the Air Force with race fans," the 28-year-old driver said. "We go out to the Air Force display and the swear-ins at the track, and it's great to see people lined up wanting to learn about the technology and the opportunities available. It's a perfect partnership, especially for me, having a life-long history with the Air Force."
This is the 13th season the Air Force has been associated with NASCAR, and the fifth year as a partner with Richard Petty Motorsports, an organization known for its commitment to the military and veteran community.
"RPM's strong legacy in NASCAR and Almirola's values and character are a great fit for the Air Force and the type of recruits that we look to attract through the sponsorship, " said Col. Marcus Johnson, chief of the Strategic Marketing Division at Air Force Recruiting Service. "Our association with NASCAR and RPM is helping us achieve our strategic goal of connecting with the patriotic fan base and recruiting technically inclined youth."
"We were so proud to accept the Pole Award last Memorial Day weekend with the Air Force car behind us in Victory Lane," team owner Richard Petty said. "This year we plan to go back there - with a win. We're going to make them proud."