Charlotte win could catapult Aric Almirolas career
Saturday, May. 26, 2012
CONCORD What can a career-first Sprint Cup Series victory in the Coca-Cola 600 mean for a driver?
There are four drivers Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Casey Mears in the field for Sundays 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway whose first career win came in this race.
Three of them Gordon, Kenseth and Labonte have gone on to win the series championship.
Could Aric Almirola be the next on that star-studded list?
Almirolas future in the series certainly wont be decided in Sundays race but a victory could set the tone for the rest of 2012 season and the direction his career has yet to take.
We ran some things at the All-Star Race that werent exactly what we were looking for, so Mike (Ford, crew chief) came back with a few things a little different and we were a lot better (this weekend), Almirola said.
I think the speed in our cars has always been there, its just about executing and thats the one thing Mike has really focused on is just execution trying to get all of the little parts and pieces and things.
Everybody is so good and our competition is so tough that if you dont execute all the little things theyll jump up and bite you. So, I feel like as far as speed has gone weve had really fast race cars, its just about executing.
Almirola will be joined on the front row by his Richard Petty Motorsports teammate, Marcos Ambrose the first time since 2010 at Kansas RPM started claimed both front row spots.
The qualifying performance on Thursday night was another step in the development of the organization, which has show speed and potential this season but thus far produced inconsistent results.
This is Almirolas first season with the team and entering this weekend, he is 21st in the series standings with one top-10 finish, an eighth earlier this season at Martinsville, Va.
However, this is Almirolas third race working with Ford, who replaced Greg Erwin following Almirolas 26th place finish at Richmond, Va., last month.
Ford has an extensive resume in NASCAR. He spent the past several years at Joe Gibbs Racing as crew chief for Denny Hamlin and the duo won eight races and finished second in points in 2010.
Coming in mid-season is very difficult these days because you dont know the philosophies that have taken that company to where theyre at. You dont know the theories behind the mechanical pieces, Ford said.
You dont know why things have evolved to where theyre at, so coming in midseason when you come in, its always because things arent good. So, coming in it was very obvious that it was execution, and its still execution.
Almirola, 28, has never run a full season in Cup before but has finished as high as second in series points in the Truck series (2010) and fourth in Nationwide (last season).
Some were surprised about Almirolas move to the iconic No. 43 in the offseason but Almirola has remained confident in his ability.
I just go out and do the best I can every week. I I feel like Im a good race car driver, he said. I feel like I can get the job done and nights like (Thursday) proves that to me so much more because anytime you can get a pole in the Cup Series, thats doing something.
These guys dont every lay down. They always run the best lap they can possibly run every lap theyre on the race track, so to be able to do that and not that Im bragging by any means but to do it by two-tenths is like, Wow. That was cool.
I did it for one lap. Now weve got to work on doing it for 600 miles.