Rookie Almirola Scores Another Top 20; Leads 53 Laps in Martinsville Race MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 19, 2008) -- Aric Almirola, who led 53 laps in Sunday's Sprint Cup race, overcame an accident to finish 20th in the Tums QuikPak 500 at...
Rookie Almirola Scores Another Top 20; Leads 53 Laps in Martinsville Race
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 19, 2008) -- Aric Almirola, who led 53 laps in Sunday's Sprint Cup race, overcame an accident to finish 20th in the Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
It was the fourth top-20 result in his last five races for the 24-year-old rookie and part-time driver of the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
The event was only the third career Cup start for Almirola at the half-mile flat track in southern Virginia, and only his 11th start of the season. The 53 laps he led was the third most of the 500-lap race, next to Jimmie Johnson's 339 and Jeff Gordon's 57.
"Aric keeps on driving like a seasoned veteran," said crew chief Tony Gibson. "We were all proud of the effort he gave this U.S. Army team today."
Though Almirola secured a respectable finish, the Tampa, Fla. native was on course for a better result until he got tangled with Elliott Sadler on Lap 196. Almirola's Chevy suffered left-front damage in the incident and the repair time on pit road cost the Army team to fall a lap down.
"It was an uphill battle after making contact with the No. 19 car," said Almirola, who led from Lap 64-116. "We had a great car and it was a blast leading the race. We had our backs against the wall and I am sorry we couldn't have had a better finish for our Soldiers. But I think they would have been proud of this team for the fight we showed in coming back and finishing 20th."
The No. 8 DEI team moved from 15th to 14th in Sprint Cup owner points with four races remaining.