Aric Almirola returns at Bristol

Pain of Watching Will Soon be Over for Almirola BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 11, 2008) -- When asked of what it's been like to have not competed in a race in more than four months, Aric Almirola gave a succinct response. "Painful," stated Almirola,...

Pain of Watching Will Soon be Over for Almirola

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 11, 2008) -- When asked of what it's been like to have not competed in a race in more than four months, Aric Almirola gave a succinct response. "Painful," stated Almirola, who will turn 24 on Friday (March 14).

Well, Almirola's wait to jump into the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet that Mark Martin has driven in the first four NASCAR Sprint Cup races of the season will soon be over.

As part of his 12-race Cup schedule in 2008, Almirola will drive the Dale Earnhardt Inc. entry at the next two races -- this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and March 30 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

"Right now the anticipation of putting on the Army uniform and finally driving the No. 8 soldiers' car in a race is really exciting," offered Almirola. "It's Bristol and that track is a challenge -- we all know that. But I don't really care what track I will be racing on -- I'm just excited about the opportunity."

"The guys on the Army team are great and they are just as excited as I am," added Almirola. "That makes me happy."

The last time Almirola competed in a NASCAR race (Cup, Nationwide or Truck) was last fall in the Nov. 11th Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway. The only driving he has done since then was some testing in the No. 8 Chevy at Daytona, California and Phoenix.

"I'm appreciative of the opportunity I have with DEI and learning from Mark Martin," explained Almirola. "But it's been very hard for me to watch the races on top of the pit box.It's not any fun being a spectator. I want to be in the action as a driver and mix it up."

Almirola's finish (26th) in Phoenix last fall was his best in six career Cup starts. He would have had a much better result had he not driven the second half of the race under power with a malfunctioned alternator.

The Bristol event will be Almirola's second Cup race at the half-mile bullring. His first race there -- August 2007 -- was also his maiden ride with DEI and the U.S. Army. He started 35th and finished 36th.

"I think Bristol will be a lot better," noted Almirola. "Everyone last summer saw two and three-wide racing. It will be good and the racing will be exciting as it always is at Bristol."

-credit: dei

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Aric Almirola , Mark Martin