Martinsville: Almirola - Friday media visit

ARIC ALMIROLA, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with media members at Martinsville Speedway and talked about his fire last fall at Martinsville, qualifying, improving as a driver and more. COMING OFF YOUR BEST FINISH AT BRISTOL ARE...

ARIC ALMIROLA, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with media members at Martinsville Speedway and talked about his fire last fall at Martinsville, qualifying, improving as a driver and more.

COMING OFF YOUR BEST FINISH AT BRISTOL ARE YOU TRYING TO BRING THAT MOMENTUM OVER TO MARTINSVILLE? "Yeah, of course. Hope to come here and have a good run just like Bristol just to prove it wasn't a fluke."

DO YOU WISH YOU DIDN'T HAVE A WEEK OFF IN BETWEEN? "No I was glad I had the weekend off because I got sick so I was thankful for the weekend off just to help recover. If I wouldn't have been sick, I would have been disappointed we had a weekend off."

ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE: "I've run here in a late model several times and run here in a truck and I ran a Cup race last year. This race track is really tricky and I wish I was better at it. It's not my favorite race track and I'm not the best at this race track. Interested to see how our race car handles in this first practice."

A LOT OF GUYS SAY QUALIFYING AT MARTINSVILLE IS A DIFFERENT ANIMAL, DO YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT QUALIFYING HERE? "It's just so tight. The field is really tight here. I think the pole and the last may be separated by two tenths, three tenths. If you mess up just the least little bit you'll be 40th so it's really important to get a perfect lap in here. Hopefully I can do that."

ON HOW HE WAS RUNNING PRIOR TO THE FIRE LAST FALL AT MARTINSVILLE. "We were running decent, I think we were like 25th or something like that. Wasn't spectacular but it was respectable. We caught on fire so it didn't turn out to be a good day for us. Nonetheless I think we had a pretty decent car. We were just logging laps there, it was the beginning of the race. That was disappointing to fall out that early in the race here last year."

ON HOW HE SEES THIS RACE BEING DIFFERENT THAN LAST YEAR'S RUN, FIRE ASIDE. "Hopefully it's a lot different. Hopefully we have a better race car and hopefully we qualify really good because this place is tough to pass, it's tough to race. Our goal is to qualify up front and go up there and ride around. It's a lot easier to race with those guys. When you get in the back everybody gets two wide and gets bottled up here really bad and makes it hard to do anything, pass, anything. Before you know it your spotter is telling you that the leader is in your mirror, you're a lap down. It just makes for a long day when you don't qualify good. We're going to focus really hard on getting a good qualifying effort in and just play the track position game all day."

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE WEEKEND: "The best thing is that it's Martinsville. I think that a lot of the other race tracks like California, Atlanta, Texas those kind of race tracks would be even more of a learning curve for me, but I've raced here in so many different things. I've raced here in a late model, I've raced here in a truck, I've ran here in a Nationwide car when they ran Nationwide cars here two years ago. So I have a lot of laps around here in many different race cars, so that's the one good thing is that when I show up here I know the race track. I know kind of how to get around the race track. The biggest thing for us will be to work on the race car and get the race car handling how I need it to handle."

WHAT DO YOU NEED IT TO DO? "Turn (laughs). This place is really, really tough on getting the race car to turn in the middle and still go fast enough. You can slow down and make it but the problem is somebody else is going to figure out how to make it go through the corner faster. It's a constant struggle of making your car turn without using too much brake so you don't wear the brakes out. This place is the hardest race track we go to on brakes so it's really easy to run the brakes off the car."

WERE YOU GUYS ALL THAT FAR OFF WITH YOUR TURN IN TESTING? "I think we should be good. I think the No. 8 car notoriously has run good here at Martinsville so they have a pretty good set up for this place. I think Tony Gibson and the boys will have this thing dialed in pretty good I hope."

CAN YOU TRANSLATE ANYTHING FROM BRISTOL TO HERE? "Not really just because Bristol's got so much banking and you don't really have to work, I mean Bristol you get tight but it's not like this place. This place is flat, it's just really, really hard to get your car to turn here where Bristol's got so much banking it kind of forces your car to turn."

WHAT'S GOING TO BE THE BIGGEST PART TO YOU IMPROVING AS A DRIVER, BEING COMPETITIVE WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT? "Just getting that Chevy Impala to the finish line every weekend. That's my biggest thing is just to cross the finish line, hopefully on the lead lap every time I'm in the race car. That's my goal and run competitive while I'm doing that. Anymore these days if you cross the finish line at the end of the race and you're on the lead lap, you've had a competitive day because it's really easy to get a lap down in these races. We run green for so much in these races now. That's our goal, to run competitive and run all the laps every week. Not just run all the laps, we don't want to log laps, we want to run competitive so that's important for us."

WHAT CAUGHT FIRE ON YOU GUYS LAST YEAR? "A fuel line on the carburetor was loose."

DID IT JUST FLAME UP INSIDE? "It flamed up everywhere. It burnt that thing pretty bad."

WAS THAT YOUR FIRST TIME CATCHING ON FIRE? "No, I've been on fire more than I would have liked to have been."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup