By James Jackson
May 26, 2018
Aric Almirola is ready to drive into Victory Lane in the Cup Series again.
Although Almirola has not won since 2014, he has posted five top-10 finishes in 12 races so far in the 2018 campaign. Almirola has an average finish of 12.4—the lowest average finish of his entire 11 year career in the MENCS.
“When you look at it just as a whole, Stewart-Haas Racing as an organization is doing incredible this year,” Almirola said. “You look at Harvick with all the wins and you look at Bowyer and Kurt and I consistently running in the top-10 and Kurt’s running in the top five more often than I am.”
Almirola took time to reflect on his time at Richard Petty Motorsports, going through the emotions of years past, that ultimately led him to a successful 2018 at SHR.
“For me, kind of going from where I came from to now,” he said. “I showed up to the racetrack every week for the last few years and always went into it with a positive outlook but deep down inside I never knew what to expect.
“I didn’t know if we were going to show up that week and have a 25th place car or if we were going to show up that week and have a 10th place car.” Almirola said. “After a while that kind of wears on you especially when you show up more often that not with a 20th place car.”
Almirola then gets on the topic of his time in Stewart-Haas Racing and his tone changed to a more happier and proud tone.
“This year every single time we go to the racetrack, every time we get on the airplane to leave on a thursday I feel like we have a shot,” he said. “We have all the tools and resources to go and win…”
“We see it eternally in our shop, that the ability to win is there every single week. It doesn’t matter what kind of racetrack it is….we are competitive every single week. That as a competitor is so much fun. That’s what we live for, that’s why you do what you do is to go out and be competitive.”
If the playoffs started today, Almirola would qualify on his points alone. The 34-year-old driver, who sits 10th in driver’s standings, is 76 points above the last eligible driver (Chase Elliott).
“This has honestly been a rejuvenation for me and my career,” he said. “To be able to show up to the racetrack every week and feel like I’m going to be competitive and have that confidence and know that we’re gonna run top-10 as long as we don’t screw up.
“If we do everything right we’re going to have a shot to win.”
Almirola’s will start ninth Sunday in his quest to win the Coca-Cola 600.