Richard Petty won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Dover International Speedway in 1969 – the only year in which he drove a Ford. One of the King’s current drivers, Aric Almirola, is looking to find Victory Lane for the first time in the No. 43 Smithfield Fusion and he’s off to a good start after qualifying fifth yesterday. Almirola spoke about his chances after today’s first practice session.
ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion – WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN TOMORROW FOR YOU TO GET THAT FIRST WIN? “We still need a little bit more speed from where we were just at in practice. We need to work on that some more here in this next practice and find some more grip in our car. Our car seems to be sliding around a little bit more than we want it to, but we’ve got a good qualifying spot and will start up front, so that’s gonna be really important. This place is really hard to pass and aero really comes into effect here, so I think having a good starting spot is really gonna help our chances. If we can make the right adjustments and be solid on pit road, we’ll have a shot.”
THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS HAVE BEEN UP-AND-DOWN. WHAT DO YOU GUYS NEED TO IMPROVE ON TO GAIN MORE CONSISTENCY? “Everything. We have to execute better. We have to execute our setups better. I have to execute my restarts better. We’ve got to be better on pit road, so it’s just a combination of everything. To win at this level everything has to be perfect. You can’t have mistakes. You can’t make mistakes on restarts. You can’t make mistakes on pit road. You can’t miss the setup, so it takes everything and we just haven’t been executing on all those fronts simultaneously. We’ve got to do a better job of that and I feel like we’ve seen moments where that’s been really good, but we haven’t done it on a consistent basis and that’s something Todd and myself and everybody here at Richard Petty Motorsports has been working on.”
HOW HAS THE DYNAMIC BEEN THESE FIRST TWO RACES BETWEEN THOSE IN THE CHASE AND THOSE THAT AREN’T? “I think everybody is under the same understanding that they don’t have a separate playoff system. There aren’t 12 or 13 guys going out there to race their own race. There are 43 guys out there and everybody is on the same agenda. Everybody wants to win, so I don’t particularly race any different. I try to respect everybody, whether they’re in the Chase or not, but at the end of the day I get paid to try to go out and win races and that’s what I’m gonna do.”