Good news for Mike Ford, deposed former crew chief for Denny Hamlin: Richard Petty Motorsports is hiring! Effective this weekend, Ford will be on the box for the No. 43 team of Aric Almirola. He replaces Greg Erwin.
Ford crewed Hamlin to six straight appearances in the Chase, most notably 2010. That year, Hamlin was leading the standings going into the final race, but surrendered the lead (and the Cup) to Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin was outspoken in questioning Ford's decisionmaking in the season's penultimate race at Phoenix, and the frayed relationship carried over into 2011. The 11 team brought on Darian Grubb for 2012.
Ford has quite the pedigree, 2010 aside. Over his six years, he crewed Hamlin to 17 wins, 66 top-5 and 108 top-10 finishes. He's also held crew chief positions for Dale Jarrett at Robert Yates Racing and Bill Elliott at Evernham Motorsports, so he's got a bit of experience with legends.
With the 43 car, he'll have his work cut out for him. Almirola currently sits 24th in the points, with only one top-10 finish, an 8th-place run at the carnage that was Martinsville. Almirola is averaging a start of 20.7, meaning Ford will need to help with qualifying, and a finish of 21.3, meaning Ford will need to employ some in-race strategy as well. Good luck to you, Mike.