Aric Almirola’s NASCAR offseason has been pretty hectic and that’s just fine with him.
After six seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports, Almirola moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason and will drive its No. 10 Ford this season. He completed his first on-track action with his new team this week, participating in a two-day Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Switching teams has been really exciting. I’ve enjoyed the last six seasons at RPM, but anytime that change is introduced, it's fresh, it's new and exciting. It kind of breaks the monotony,” Almirola said.
“For the last six years over the offseason, there hasn't been a lot to do. It's been pretty mellow and relaxed and routine. So this year has been completely the opposite.”
He’s had to get new seats installed in his new cars and learned the names of a host of new team members with which he’ll be working this year. He’s even come across a few with whom he worked many years ago at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
“That part's been fun to rekindle those relationships that I've had in the past. But just to go (to the shop) and see the operation ... when you drive up to the complex, it's so big and so massive. They have so many resources at their fingertips inside their race car shop,” he said.
“You see all the trophies in their trophy case and their championship trophies – it’s very evident why. Just the attention to detail, the amount of people pulling in the same direction. It’s incredible to see first-hand.”
A huge opportunity
Almirola’s move to SHR is the biggest opportunity of his career.
The full-time ride at SHR provides Almirola, 33, his first chance to compete for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship with one of the series’ top-tier teams.
He has made 244 starts in the Cup series since beginning part-time in 2007 with Joe Gibbs Racing and DEI. He has one career victory, 11 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes and has one won pole.
Asked about taking over the car that has become synonymous with fan favorite Danica Patrick the last several seasons, Almirola said he hasn’t spent much time thinking about it.
“There's always change, right? Whether it’s Dale Jr. retiring and someone else getting into his car; Jeff Gordon retiring and someone else getting into his car. Whatever, there's always change,” he said.
“That's something about life. The only constant is change. So, for me, I haven’t really put much thought about getting in the No. 10 car and it being in somebody else’s car. When I get in the car, the only thing I see is the windshield and 39 other drivers that I’ve beaten or want to beat.
“I’ve driven the sport's most iconic car for the last six years, so if you want to talk about it from that aspect, there’s been more pressure driving that Petty blue No. 43 car than I think I'll ever have driving a black and white No. 10 car.”