In that time, Almirola has three top-five qualifying runs, including a fifth-place showing yesterday to lead the Ford group, and a career-tying best fourth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway two weeks ago. Almirola and Parrott spoke about their success before today’s first practice session at Phoenix International Raceway.
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief – No. 43 Farmland Ford Fusion
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET WHEN THE CHANGE WAS MADE AND YOU CAME FROM THE 9 TO THE 43? “Everybody at RPM has been good to me and I just said to myself that I was going to make this work and make it work in good ways because I know I can.
I’ve got a group of people surrounding me that I trust and I have a lot of belief in. I’ve made my commitment to the 43 car because I know how important it is to try to get it back in Victory Lane, and I feel like with what we’ve done in our first eight races together and our qualifying effort yesterday has been pretty spectacular.”
WHAT HAS IMPRESSED YOU ABOUT ARIC SO FAR? “He’s just a good kid first off. He comes from a racing background. That s all he’s done his whole life ever since he was a kid, and that’s all I’ve done since I was a kid is race.
He’s got a good feel for the race car. His feedback is really good and he’s got a great personality. He’s easy to get along with and all the guys like him, but he’s also pretty positive and stays upbeat.
I keep on him to stay that way, but we’ve got a great race team here with the 43 and I’m looking forward to the winter and getting the 2013 cars going and build off what we’re doing right now.”
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP FOR ARIC AS FAR AS GETTING TO THAT NEXT LEVEL? “I think it’s just seat time and working with this team. We need to understand what he’s looking for and we’ve come a long way in nine weeks with that.
I think we’ve learned something new each week with him about the feel he’s looking for and even though we might miss it a little bit, we circle the wagons and come back and hit on it.”
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR TOMORROW? “I think a good, solid day for us is a top-10 finish. I think if we go out and finish there at this point in the season is great. Anything better than that is going to be a bonus.
Do I think we’re capable of being better than that? Yes, I think we’re probably a top seven car looking at lap times from yesterday.
We’ll know more this afternoon after the practice sessions, but a good top-10 would be great at the point we’re with on this team and the direction we’re heading.”
ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 Farmland Ford Fusion
YOU MENTIONED RECENTLY HOW MUCH FUN YOU’VE BEEN HAVING SINCE TODD HAS COME OVER. IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC FOR THAT FEELING? “I think first and foremost it’s always fun when your cars are fast and you’re running good.
That’s a big factor, but it starts right from the top with the leadership. Todd is a great team leader and great motivator and he likes to have fun.
He’s been doing this for a long time and the only way to do this for a long time and not drive yourself crazy or want to slit your wrists every weekend is to have fun.
He’s a big proponent in that and it rubs off on everybody on this race team. A lot of the guys on this team are jokesters and really light-hearted and like to have fun, so it’s a really good atmosphere and it’s a really good group of guys who really enjoy coming to the race track.
We don’t ever show up at the airplane and people are miserable because we’re going to the race track. Everybody is having fun, so that makes me have fun.”
WAS THE CHANGE OF TEAMS AND HAVING TODD COME OVER A JOLT YOU NEEDED AS WELL BECAUSE IT’S A LONG SEASON WITH MANY PEAKS AND VALLEYS? “Absolutely. We talked about that yesterday after qualifying.
In the middle part of the summer I would have given anything for the season to be coming to an end because I was not running good and was miserable at the race track and things weren’t going the way we wanted them to go.
Since we’ve made the switch and have gone to this deal, I wish that Homestead wasn’t next weekend. I wish the season wasn’t over because it’s been such a big difference.
Running good is probably the biggest part of it, but also the people. I just fit really well with this whole group and I click really well with Todd. Everything since we started at Chicago has just been great.
We’ve been fast every weekend and had good cars. We didn’t really get great results the first few races because things kept happening that were out of our control, but then all of that started the change.
We went to Kansas and felt like we had a car that was gonna be really tough to beat and thought we should have won that race, but had a right-front tire failure. Other than that, it’s been great.”
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR TOMORROW? “I expect to run good. We’re gonna work on it today and that’s another thing that’s been great about working with Todd and these guys is we get a lot of stuff done in practice.
We make a lot of changes and work on a lot of different things and it gives us an opportunity to make decisions for the race on Sunday, so I expect that we’ll run good.
They ran really good here in the spring race and lost a motor, so I think we’ll be good. I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be.”
IT’S ABOUT BUILDING MOMENTUM FOR NEXT YEAR, RIGHT? “That’s right and we’re doing a pretty good job of that right now.”