ARIC ALMIROLA, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed running full time with DEI next year, Mark Martin as his teammate, how the opportunity came to be, and more. ON GOING FULL TIME RACING IN CUP WITH DEI NEXT YEAR "I'm really ...
ARIC ALMIROLA, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed running full time with DEI next year, Mark Martin as his teammate, how the opportunity came to be, and more.
ON GOING FULL TIME RACING IN CUP WITH DEI NEXT YEAR "I'm really looking forward to next year. It's something I've been wanting for a long, long time. When I ran a Busch car at Gibbs, I had to share it. I've always run partial deals. So for the first time, I'm going to get to run a full schedule. I'm going to get to run every week. I'm really looking forward to that. I'm really looking forward to working with all these guys on this team every single week because it'll help when we have good weekends, build on the momentum, and when we have bad weekends (it will help) to try and make it better."
WAS THIS AN EASY DEAL TO WORK OUT OR WERE THERE A LOT OF COMPLICATIONS? "No, it was really easy. I was going to get to drive a race car full time and better yet, it's going to be the No. 8 car at DEI. I'm thrilled to death. It was very simple to work out and I just can't wait for February to get here. So, I've been telling everybody that if I could go to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow morning and we'd be at Daytona testing, I'd be happy."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT THIS OPPORTUNITY CAME ALONG? "Yes and no. When I ran well at Bristol earlier this year, and that kind of jump-started the talks. So we began talking about it more and about trying to get me more races. And fortunately the way all the circumstances worked out, it worked out perfectly in my opinion, to where I'm going to get to run every week."
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING DURING THE WEEKS WHEN YOU HAVEN'T BEEN RACING? "I've been doing a lot of testing. And I've been trying to do odds and ends stuff here and there just trying to stay in the race car. I did the Prelude (to the Dream) deal for Tony Stewart, and during our off-weekend in July I'm going to go to Nova Scotia and run a Late Model. I've just been trying to stay in a race car and stay active and race as much as I can."
HAS THAT BEEN DIFFICULT, EMOTIONALLY, TO NOT BE IN THE RACE CAR EVERY WEEK? "Yeah, but I've dealt with it almost now for so long that I hate to say it, but I've sort of become accustomed to it. So I'm just so excited. Now it will be even more emotional because I know what I have to look forward to. So that'll be a big deal for me. Coming every week and hanging out with these guys and that's what it's all about for me.
"I really enjoy being with Tony Gibson and the whole crew that he's put together this year are a lot of fun to work with. It makes it fun to show up to the race track."
LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME, A LOT OF THINGS WERE UP IN THE AIR. DID YOU EVER THINK THAT A YEAR LATER YOU'D HAVE A FULL-TIME CUP RIDE? "No, I would have never imagined that I would have an opportunity like I'm going to have next year. I'm thrilled to death. I can't explain how excited I am. It's something you dream about when you're a little kid is to race at the highest level of your sport every weekend. I've enjoyed the times that I've gotten to race this year and in the previous years. But to actually walk in the race car shop and have all the cars that have Number 8's on them have my name on the roof and to work with my guys every single weekend and them not have to work with Mark (Martin) one weekend and me the next, will be a big help for our race team and for everybody involved."
WAS THERE ANY POINT WHEN YOU DOUBTED YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE JOE GIBBS RACING, ESPECIALLY WITH THE RUMORS THAT TONY STEWART MIGHT BE MOVING ON? "No. I made a decision back then based on what was best for me at the time. That's part of what we do out here is try and make decisions based on what is the best for you at that moment. And at the moment, that was the best decision I could make to continue to drive race cars. I'm very happy the path that this has led me down because now I'm going to be getting in the No. 8 full time next year. I think that's a really good opportunity for me."
DO YOU THINK YOU WILL PICK UP ANY NATIONWIDE RACES THIS YEAR? "We're working on that but we haven't come to anything really that's set in stone as far as anything like that goes. But we are working on it and we are working on trying to get some sponsors to run some Nationwide races. We have a Nationwide team that is at the shop in Mooresville that is very capable of going out and running very competitively. We're just trying to get sponsors for it. So it's been tough. The economy is pretty tough right now. We're trying to make that work."
ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL THE LAST FEW PIECES OF ADVICE OUT OF MARK MARTIN BEFORE HE DOES WHATEVER HE IS GOING TO DO? "Yeah, but I've talked to him about it and he is still the same Mark Martin. He's going to be at the race track and if anything, it would almost be better because now weekends that I'm in the race car, he's going to be in the race car too so I can walk over and grab him and speak with him for a second and ask him if his car is doing this or that or whatever. He's been a big help for me this year with stuff on and off the race track, but I think he'll be just as much of a help to me for the rest of my career. He's a phenomenal race car driver and he's taught me a lot and hopefully he doesn't stop teaching me.
-credit: gm racing