Trent Owens in as Almirola’s crew chief at Petty

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Trent Owens has been announced as the crew chief for Aric Almirola’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in the Sprint Cup Series, marking his first full-time crew chief opportunity in NASCAR’s top series.

Owens, a five-time winner in Nationwide Series competition, served as crew chief for Kyle Larson this past season at Turner Scott Motorsports’ NNS operation.

Larson, who will compete for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2014, earned nine Top-5s and 17 Top-10s under Owens’ guidance.

Additionally, Owens helped Larson take his inaugural Camping World Truck Series win back in April at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.

“This is a great opportunity to join a Sprint Cup organization and a race team that can win,” Owens said in a statement. “The No. 43 team has proven they can race up front.

“We just need to find a little more consistency to make the Chase. I believe we can put ourselves in contention for a Chase spot in 2014.”

Almirola knows Owens from his NNS days when the two competed against each other. He’s hopeful that Owens can help RPM find that missing consistency.

“He’s a very talented crew chief who has accomplished a lot, but he’s still very hungry to do a lot more,” Almirola said in his thoughts. “Our team is the same. We’re getting better, but we need more Top-10’s, Top-5s and wins.

“I believe Trent can help us do that and he’s a positive addition to the team.”

Greg Ebert served as the No. 43’s interim crew chief for the final four races of the 2013 season after Todd Parrott was dismissed following his indefinite suspension for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.