Fontana II: Aric Almirola preview

Debut Doesn't Rattle Almirola; Army Driver Focusing on California Race FONTANA, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2007) -- After a rocky debut with the U.S. Army team in Bristol, Aric Almirola is looking for a reversal of fortunes in this weekend's NASCAR Nextel...

Debut Doesn't Rattle Almirola; Army Driver Focusing on California Race

FONTANA, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2007) -- After a rocky debut with the U.S. Army team in Bristol, Aric Almirola is looking for a reversal of fortunes in this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at California Speedway.

The Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver finished 36th in Bristol after only having 10 minutes of practice time in the 01 Army Chevrolet.

"We didn't get much time to work on the setup in Bristol," said Almirola, referring to ashifting miscue that resultedin a broken motor. "We basically went into therace cold, but we fought to the end.I have a good feeling that California is going to be a lot different."

The 23-year-old Almirola, who is of Cuban descent, said that he is looking forward to his secondstart with the Army team and his third Cup start overall.

"ThisArmy team has had some good runs at California in the past and that excites me," offered Almirola, whose only experience at the two-mile track was in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2006. "I just want to give the guys, the soldiers and DEI a good showing."

While Almirolaremains encouraged about being with the Army/DEI team, his teammates, includingcrew chief Ryan Pemberton, share the same feeling.

"For the little time we had to practice in Bristol, I thought Aric did a good job," offered Pemberton. "Wehad a lot of things go against us last week, but Aric showed the poiseof a skilled veteran.Itshould bebetter in California."

"We're going through a learning curve, which I anticipate will be short," added Pemberton. "Aric and the team passed an important first hurdle and that was establishing a good chemistry."

The last time the 01 Army team competed at the Southern California track was in February whenMark Martin finished fifth and left the facilityin first place in thedriver pointstandings. Almirola is sharing the 01 Armyridewith Martin.

"It seems a lot longer than six months since we raced in California," noted Pemberton. "Plentyhas changed since then, but we have basicallythe same guys with the Army team. We're not looking for Aric to rotate the earth, we would like to run a smooth race and finish on the lead lap.If we can do that, I feel we should have a decent finish."

The 01 DEI team is 13th in driver points, one position shy of making the Chase for the owner's championship. California and Richmond are the two races remaining before the Chase begins in New Hampshire on Sept. 16.

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Aric Almirola , Mark Martin