Daytona wreck knocks Almirola out of Chase position
Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images
Aric Almirola addresses the media last Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
For the first time this season, Aric Almirola finds himself on the outside looking in.
Almirola’s 34th place finish at Daytona International Speedway dropped the driver to 17th overall on the Chase Grid, 24 points back of 16th place Clint Bowyer.
Almirola’s chances of defending his 2014 Coke Zero 400 victory came to a halt on lap 106 when his No. 43 Ford Fusion was collected in an 11 car accident off of turn four.
“I didn’t see what happened, I saw two cars spark on the inside and I heard them start to spin,” he said to FOX Sports after the incident. “And I thought that if I’d just stay in the gas, I’d get clear of it. At the last second, I saw a car out of the corner of my eye shoot back up the racetrack and catch me in the left rear.”
“Daytona’s a game of inches. Another 24 inches, I would have been clear of that… we’ve been fighting really hard to stay in that Chase spot, and we’ll bounce back from this. We have a really good race team, great sponsors.”
Almirola, who ran as high as eighth place, also talked about the unpredictability of superspeedway racing.
Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images
Aric Almirola's No. 43 Ford Fusion in February 2015.
“You can’t ride around in the back the whole day,” he said. “Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. That is Daytona and Talladega. You can ride in the back and get in a wreck or be up front and get in a wreck. You just have to go race.”
With nine races before the Chase lineup is set, Almirola sits as the first driver outside a playoff spot.
At his peak this season, Almirola sat tenth in points leaving Dover after a fifth place effort. Leaving that race, the halfway mark to the Chase, he had a 46 point pad over 17th place Clint Bowyer, one point shy of a full race cushion.
In the four races since, Almirola has averaged a 28th place finish, including a last place run the following week at Pocono Raceway.
In three starts at Kentucky Speedway, the next stop on the circuit, Almirola has averaged a 27th place finish, with a best of 15th in 2013.