Aric Almirola’s car will wear a throwback paint scheme, and number, this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
The driver of what’s traditionally the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford will switch to No. 41 this weekend as the team pays tribute to Maurice Petty, who will be inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014.
Maurice Petty powered “King Richard’s” 15 of 19 career wins at Martinsville. A win by Almirola on Sunday would be the first of his career and still count for owner points for the No. 43, per a one-race exemption made by NASCAR to allow the change.
The No. 43 last won with John Andretti at Martinsville in 1999. The No. 43 last missed a race in October 2003 when Jeff Green failed to qualify at Atlanta.
“It is kind of weird, but to me it goes back to same thing we did when we first started,” Richard told NASCAR.com regarding the No. 43’s absence this weekend. “Dad’s (Lee’s) number was 42. We just took the two off and put a three on there. We just took the three off my car and put a one on the thing.”
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.