- Marty Smith, ESPN
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Aric Almirola on Tuesday signed a multiyear agreement to drive JR Motorsports' No. 88 Nationwide Series Chevrolet, beginning in 2011.
There's also a chance Almirola could run some races toward the end of 2010.
"The chance to drive full time in the Nationwide Series with a top caliber team is something I am extremely excited about," Almirola said in a statement announcing the contract released by the team Wednesday.
One year ago Almirola was unemployed, and told ESPN.com recently that he felt "cancerous" during the humbling attempt to find a ride.
But after a breakthrough season in the Camping World Truck Series, during which he has two victories and ranks second in the point standings, he became a hot commodity this year.
Almirola's success piqued the interest of some Hendrick Motorsports heavy hitters, namely Chad Knaus.
When Knaus' driver, Jimmie Johnson, was searching for backup help in case his wife went into labor and he required a replacement driver, Knaus sought Almirola.
The opportunity in the No. 48 led to Cup testing opportunities for HMS and to run JR Motorsports' No. 88 Chevrolet at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis.
He told ESPN.com recently that he had offers in all three major NASCAR series for 2011.
"If there is a quintessential JR Motorsports driver, we feel it's Aric Almirola," general manager Kelley Earnhardt said in the statement. "The way he drives, the ambition he carries, the way he represents himself on and off the track, it all fits within our company's dynamics, our core objectives, and the values of our sponsorship partners. We look forward to putting him in our No. 88 car so he can continue his success."
Marty Smith is a motorsports reporter for ESPN.
12dTom McKean, ESPN Stats & Information