Michigan: Race winner interview

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 51 Zyclara/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota Tundra, Billy Ballew Motorsports Finishing Position: 1st How was your race today? "We struggled at the beginning of the race just being really tight. Dirty air was so bad today.

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 51 Zyclara/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota Tundra, Billy Ballew Motorsports
Finishing Position: 1st

How was your race today?

"We struggled at the beginning of the race just being really tight. Dirty air was so bad today. Clean air was so important and we got to the front and we got in clean air and it just was a different truck. It drove great. It was a little bit free where I had fought tight all day, but Richie Wauters (crew chief) and all the guys at Billy Ballew Motorsports - they work their tails off all week long and it shows man. We had an awesome truck. I want to thank Graceway Pharmaceuticals. They stuck behind us and they've been a great supporter of ours. I want to thank the fans - what a crowd today. I was doing my burnout there and I seen them all cheering and waving and stuff so that's cool. That makes you feel good when you come and see a packed house like that."

What adjustments did your team make during the race to give you a winning truck?

"We struggled just being really tight. We worked on it and worked on it and tried to get it freed up but dirty air was so bad. On those last couple restarts I knew if I could just get to the front we'll have a different truck and sure enough we got to the front and as soon as we got to the front it was a totally different truck. It drove great. I don't think I lifted those last 10 laps. My hats off to Billy Ballew (team owner), Richie Wauters (crew chief) and everybody at Billy Ballew Motorsports. Our Graceway Pharmaceuticals Tundra was awesome today."

What happened on the final 10 laps?

"This place you can draft so well, but at the same time I knew if I kept Todd's (Bodine) nose in dirty air that I could upset his truck. And that's what I tried to do. I tried to break the draft down the straightaways as much as possible and in the corners I tried to take his lane away so he could get tight. Fortunate enough for us today, that was the key."

How did you feel when you were racing three-wide to take the lead?

"I didn't think it was the greatest place to be. I knew we were going to run wide open through the corner and we were either going to crash or we were going to make it out the other side because I knew how important clean air was. I knew that was my only shot to get out in the lead and if I didn't get out in the lead then there was no chance of us winning the race. I went down in turn one and I knew that I was going to run a shorter distance than Todd (Bodine) do I just tried to hold tight on Kyle's (Busch) door to get him loose, which I did and by the time I got off turn two, I was almost clear Todd. Then when we went through (turns) three and four, I cleared him. I think that was the move of the race as far as I'm concerned for winning the race. Our truck, in dirty air, just wasn't as good as it needed to be. That was key."

RICHIE WAUTERS, crew chief, No. 51 Zyclara/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota Tundra, Billy Ballew Motorsports

What adjustments were you able to make on the truck today?

"Early in the race, he (Aric Almirola) was a little tight on exit. The first adjustments we made, we took some wedge out and made a track bar adjustment. It seemed to make a little bit of difference, but it still wasn't enough. In the Truck Series, when you only get to stop twice, you have to make sure you get it the next time. We made a pretty big air adjustment on it and it was still a little bit tight, but once he got out in the clean air, it was good."

BILLY BALLEW, team owner, Billy Ballew Motorsports

Are you surprised by the early success of Aric Almirola this year?

"First and foremost, I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve and with the success with a very limited budget in the 15 truck when Aric (Almirola) drove it last year and I think he finished second five or six times. Then he drove the 51 in a couple races and we were running for the owner's championship and there was no doubt what was possible. There was never a question or debate. When Kyle (Busch) was going his direction, we were fortunate enough to have Graceway Pharmaceuticals come on as a sponsor and Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and all that they do for us. There was never anything to discuss, it was a given."

-source: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Aric Almirola
Teams Toyota Racing