Aric Almirola Experiencing Opportunities of a Lifetime

[media-credit name=”Gary Buchanan” align=”alignright” width=”223″][/media-credit]While Aric Almirola did not have quite the qualifying run that he had hoped for at Pocono Raceway, the young driver of the No. 43 Transportation Impact Ford indeed feels like he is having the opportunities of his lifetime.

He and his team, including crew chief Mike Ford, have been improving steadily, particularly in the last three Cup races. In fact, Almirola brought his famed race car to a sixth place finish at the Monster Mile last weekend.

“I think it’s a team effort,” Almirola said. “Bringing Mike Ford on has certainly helped.”

“But as a whole, as a team, and as an organization, we’ve gotten better,” Almirola continued. “We’re running stronger and our finishes show that.”

“I’m really proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports and all these guys on the No. 43 team,” Almirola said. “At the beginning of the year it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t what we really wanted either.”

“So, for all of them to keep their heads up and keep working hard and not getting discouraged and to finally see the hard work pay off in the last few weeks have been good.”

Almirola also feels that he is having the experience of a lifetime in working with his crew chief. He is especially impressed with Ford’s leadership abilities and his attention to detail.

“Our relationship has come along really good and really quick,” Almirola said of his crew chief Ford. “It’s always easier when you have fast cars.”

“So, when your cars are driving good and you’ve got speed, everybody’s happy, things are good and everything’s a lot easier.”

“The last few weeks have been great,” Almirola continued. “Me and Mike have hit it off really good. I feel like we understand each other.”

“He leads this team really well,” Almirola said. “I think the experience is huge but his work ethic is great.”

“He’s hands on and out in the shop. He’s been around the sport for a long time and he’s done all these guys’ jobs,” Almirola continued. “So, he knows each aspect of the car and understands what needs to be done.”

“He has a certain way that he wants things done and he is very meticulous,” Almirola said. “I think that with as competitive as our sport is today, the detail is really important and he really focuses on the details.”

Almirola, however, readily admits that he has not had the experience of a lifetime at Pocono so far. In fact, he has found everything and every turn challenging for his first race in a Cup car at the ‘Tricky Triangle.’

“It’s a tough track, really tough,” Almirola said. “It takes some learning and getting used to I’m finding out. So, my first time here in a Cup car, I’ve been finding the challenges.”

“The whole place has proven to be a challenge for me so far this weekend.”

Although Almirola qualified 29th, he feels that he will be able to improve as the racing begins. And he and Mike Ford may have to use some pit or tire strategy to move toward the front of the pack.

“I think in the race everything will happen a lot smoother,” Almirola said. “I’ll be in a pack and be able to judge my speed a lot better off other cars.”

“We’ll have to play some strategy because it’s going to be really tough to drive from the back where we qualified up to the top ten or so,” Almirola continued. “It’s going to take some strategy and some good pit stops, which have to be solid all day.”

Almirola is thrilled with one aspect of coming to Pocono, that of bringing on a new race sponsor. For the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR, Almirola has welcomed Transportation Impact to the race car.

“Brian Moffitt and all the marketing guys at RPM have done an outstanding job of bringing on new sponsors,” Almirola said. “These are new sponsors that are coming on that have never even been involved in the sport.”

“We’re bringing new money to the sport which is always good to see,” Almirola continued. “Weekends like this weekend, having Transportation Impact on board, is a huge help.”

“It’s no secret that it takes a lot of money to run these race teams,” Almirola said. “So every race we get sponsored is a big deal.”

Experiencing the opportunities of a lifetime has, however, brought its share of challenges to the up and coming racer. First and foremost are the time demands of the Cup Series, followed closely by the extreme competition on the track.

“The time demand has been most surprising,” Almirola said. “I knew it would take some time to learn and there would be weekends like this weekend.”

“But what I didn’t realize was the time and attention and focus that it would take,” Almirola continued. “I knew it would more than what I was used to running a Nationwide car or a Truck but it is unbelievable how much time I spend focused on this 43 car, whether I’m at the race track or when I’m not doing sponsor meet and greets or meeting with new potential sponsors or just going to the shop for debriefs.”

“All the things that it takes to be successful at this level take time,” Almirola said. “It’s a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job.”

“I think the other challenge is just how competitive this series is,” Almirola continued. “You can’t be off just a little bit and you’ll be 30th.”

“You look at guys like Jeff Gordon and even Jamie McMurray and they have had their struggles,” Almirola said. “That’s what I’m talking about. That’s how competitive our sport is.”

“From week to week, you have to be on your game all the time.”

In spite of the challenges, Almirola acknowledges two of the biggest opportunities of a lifetime that he is experiencing and will experience soon.

“It’s amazing to race for Richard Petty,” Almirola said. “Just the experience and the knowledge he has and to be able to drive the No. 43 car is so special.”

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Almirola continued. “I remember when I was a kid and watching him race.”

“So, to have the opportunity to drive that 43 car is very special,” Almirola said. “I’m very thankful for it.”

“I think the biggest opportunity that I will have and the thing that people would be surprised to know about me is that I’m getting ready to be a dad,” Almirola revealed with a grin. “That’s a big surprise.”

“He’s due in September and we’re really excited about it,” Almirola continued. “I’ll have a whole new role as a human on this planet.”

“For the past 28 years, it’s been all about me and I’m getting ready to experience something totally different,” Almirola said. “And I’m looking forward to it.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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