No. 21 Aric Almirola
Image by PDA.PHOTO / Flickr.com
By Dominic Aragón
February 1, 2014
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
Aric Almirola may become one of the benefactors of the new Chase format.
Almirola enters his third season driving Richard Petty’s iconic No. 43 car. Although he has yet to score a win in NASCAR’s top series, Almirola has shown signs of improvement in his previous two years at Richard Petty Motorsports.
The 29-year-old had a career year in 2013, posting one top-five finish and six top-10 finishes en route to 18th in the series standings. Almirola produced a hot streak of four straight top-10 finishes in the early part of the season, and sat inside the top-10 in points after race eleven Darlington.
However, Almirola only picked up two more top-10 finishes in 2013 and quietly finished 18th in points.
2014 could be the year Almirola scores his elusive first win, and could mark the return of the No. 43 to victory lane. Almirola’s strong tracks seem to be at places like Kansas, Dover, New Hampshire, and Homestead-Miami.
Another plus for Almirola is that he now has on-track experience with his new crew chief. With Todd Parrott being released after Charlotte, and Greg Ebert filling in for the last four races, the two have possibly formed chemistry, as Almirola did show improvement over the last four races.
A win in the first 26 races would all but guarantee Almirola a Chase spot with the new rules announced last week. Over the past two years, Almirola has proven to be a consistent top-20 driver, finishing on the lead lap over 54 percent of the time.
Although the season’s a long one, Almirola could be looking at yet again another career year.
Stats provided by racing-reference.info