Martinsville: Aric Almirola race report

Punctured Radiator Spoils Almirola's Strong Effort in Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2008) -- Though his car got hit from every direction during Sunday's bump-and-bang NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, Aric Almirola was...

Punctured Radiator Spoils Almirola's Strong Effort in Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2008) -- Though his car got hit from every direction during Sunday's bump-and-bang NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, Aric Almirola was still able to stay on the lead lap and maintain respectable track position at the rugged half-mile short track.

But the number of hits to the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS eventually took its toll, forcing Almirola out of the race when a punctured radiator led to an engine failure on Lap 379 of 500. Almirola, who was running in 22nd place when smoke started to spew from under the hood of his car, was credited with a 42nd-place finish.

"I felt like Cole Trickle out there -- the only thing that didn't hit us or I didn't hit was the pace car," said Almirola, referring to the driver played by Tom Cruise in the Days of Thunder motion picture. "It seemed like every time we had something going we got knocked back and had to battle our way through the field, which isn't easy at this track."

In a race that saw 18 cautions, Almirola was holding his own until the radiator malfunctioned. He started the race third, his best qualifying effort in eight career Cup races.

Almirola did fall back early in the race but after a pit-road adjustment to the Army Chevy, he charged back to fourth place. However, his run in the top five was cut short when the front-end of his Chevy suffered damage after making contact with Bobby Labonte's No. 43 car on Lap 57.

"That incident messed up the Army Chevy and from that point on we had a handicapped car," offered Almirola.

A few more incidents followed but Almirola and the No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. team kept storming back and ran in the top 15 for a good portion of the race.

"It's just too bad that it ended the way it did," said Almirola, who finished eighth in Bristol two weeks ago. "If we could have lasted the entire race I am confident that we would have had a decent finish. We were like our soldiers today, we never gave up and the guys on the pit crew were awesome all day."

Almirola, who is sharing the No. 8 ride with Mark Martin, will next compete at the April 27th race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Martin, who drove in the first four races, will return to the No. 8 Army Chevy next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Labonte , Aric Almirola , Tom Cruise , Mark Martin