Aric Almirola's NASCAR season has gone "miserably wrong"

To say the start of Aric Almirola’s 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has not gone according to plan is a huge understatement.

Aric Almirola's NASCAR season has gone "miserably wrong"

Even with the performance issues his Stewart-Haas Racing organization has battled this year, Almirola’s season couldn’t go much worse.

He's mired in 27th in the series standings after nine race; he’s yet to lead a lap this season; he’s wrecked out of three races and finished on the lead-lap in only three races.

Almirola and his No. 10 Ford team did get a reprieve last weekend at Richmond (Va.) Raceway – he ran strong all day and finished with a season’s best sixth-place finish.

It was a small step in the right direction and one Almirola desperately hopes can build some positive momentum.

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang, crash

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang, crash

Photo by: NASCAR Media

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve never started a project or anything else that I’ve expected it to go miserably wrong, and that’s exactly what has happened with our season,” Almirola, 37, said.

“I don’t think anybody on our team or any of our partners or anybody would have expected us to go through the beginning part of the season that we’ve gone through, so that was definitely something that’s caught us all off guard.

“It’s been a really rough stretch, but I’m proud of the way that we’ve continued to fight and we’ve continued to dig deep and really try and persevere, and Richmond was a nice way for us to bounce back.”

With 17 races remaining to qualify for the Cup Series playoffs, Almirola and his team find themselves in a bit of a quandary.

Do they go all-out to try to win their way in? Or do they focus on running the best race possible while trying along the way to collect as many points as possible?

Almirola admits the latter is going to be extremely difficult.

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Smithfield, Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro iFly, crash

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Smithfield, Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro iFly, crash

Photo by: NASCAR Media

“I think pointing our way in from here is a long shot for sure, especially just because we haven’t scored a lot of stage points anyway and our cars have been off, so a good day for us is similar to what we ran at Richmond,” he said. “We flirt with the top 10, you score a few stage points and get a top 10 finish.

“That’s what we’ve been capable of lately, so I know the guys at the shop are working hard to get our cars back to where they need to be to go compete for wins every week. We’re going to need to win, and Talladega is a great opportunity for us to do that, but we can’t do that if we’re on a wrecker, so I think it is important for us to be mindful of that, making sure that we get to the finish so that we have a shot to win the race.

“I personally think that winning at Talladega is more important than scoring 20 stage points and two playoff points from winning both stages, but ending up in a big wreck.”

Winning this Sunday at Talladega is certainly not out of the question for Almirola. Both of his Cup Series wins have come at superspeedway races with his most recent in 2018 coming at Talladega.

Also, the performance issues that SHR has been working through this season are not likely to affect them on a superspeedway, which features vastly different aerodynamic rules.

“We’ve had really good speedway cars. We obviously won down at Daytona in the Duel, so our cars are fast. We know we can go there (and) we’ll have the capability of winning,” Almirola said.

“You’ve just got to have some luck on your side and have things go your way and hopefully you don’t end up crashed.”

shares
comments

Related video

Hamilton, Wallace react to Chauvin guilty verdict

Previous article

Hamilton, Wallace react to Chauvin guilty verdict

Next article

Netflix to produce new documentary series on Bubba Wallace

Netflix to produce new documentary series on Bubba Wallace
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Aric Almirola
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Author Jim Utter
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020