Is JR Motorsports Securing Almirola's Future?

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2010

BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 12:  Aric Almirola, driver of the #51 Zyclara / Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota, stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway on June 12, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Rumors abound that Aric Almirola just signed a multi-year contract to drive the No. 88 NASCAR Nationwide car for JR Motorsports.

Though reports cannot be verified by JR Motorsports or through the driver, the rumor has been reported on several credible media outlets.

Almirola has been the driver dujour for backup during babywatch for Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports.

It appears Hendrick has a great deal of faith in the talent and potential of Almirola to put him in his equipment.  Almirola seemed to take to the cars well in practice sessions.

The fact that not once, but twice HMS looked to Almirola has done wonders for his resume.

Now, if in fact he drives perhaps two years with JR Motorsports, he will indeed be primed for a ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.  Driving the new style Nationwide car with all the Hendrick goodies, like chassis and engines plus HMS support may be an indication of things to come.

Though JR Motorsports doesn't plan to field a team in NASCAR's top-tier, could it be Almirola might be driving for Earnhardt Jr. should he become an owner/driver in the Cup series in 2013?

It may also be possible he is being groomed as the new addition to the Hendrick stables, should Junior leave in 2013 or before.

The Tampa native came through NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program and was a developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.

He drove the JGR Nationwide car, but asked to be released after a bit of turmoil when he filled in for Denny Hamlin.

Almirola drove the No. 8 for DEI, but lost the ride due to lack of sponsorship.  He went on to drive for several other teams.

Recently he has found success driving the No. 51 Toyota for Billy Ballew in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series.  He has had two wins this year and is ranked second in the point standings.

With a somewhat tumultuous young career, he may have just found stability with JR Motorsports.

The stint as driver of the No. 88 and with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as his boss, Almirola's future in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is looking bright for the talented driver.