Almirola Solid in Cup Road Race Debut SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) -- Aric Almirola met the challenge and finished 28th in his maiden Sprint Cup road race, contested Sunday at Infineon Raceway. The U.S. Army driver avoided the road race ...
Almirola Solid in Cup Road Race Debut
SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) -- Aric Almirola met the challenge and finished 28th in his maiden Sprint Cup road race, contested Sunday at Infineon Raceway.
The U.S. Army driver avoided the road race pitfalls which had plagued many of the current Cup drivers when they made their debuts on the twisting circuits.
The 24 year-old Almirola, who was competing in only his fourth start of the season and 10th of his career, not only avoided trouble on the 11-turn track, but finished the race on the lead lap.
"I knew this was going to be a big challenge and I just wanted to keep the Army Chevy Impala SS on the pavement," explained Almirola, who qualified 40th. "This was difficult for me, but I felt I improved throughout the weekend. Towards the end of the race I was having fun and felt that I was getting a better feel for turning both left and right. I am looking forward to the next road race in Watkins Glen."
"It really felt good to be back in the Army car and representing all of our soldiers," added Almirola, whose last race was in Talladega, Ala. in late April.
U.S. Army crew chief, Tony Gibson, was impressed with how Almirola handled his first Cup race on a road course.
"Aric did everything we asked of him -- and more," said Gibson. "He kept the car out of trouble, stayed on the lead lap and improved as the race went on. For his first time competing as a Cup driver in a road race, I thought he did a terrific job. Finishing 28th is by no means what we strive for every week. But considering today's circumstances, that wasn't a bad result."
While Almirola can now take a big gasp of relief that his first Cup road race is in the record books, he can now focus with more confidence on his next Cup race, which will be Sunday (June 29) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"New Hampshire is the kind of track I grew up racing on," said Almirola. "I'm going to feel much more at home at the one-mile oval in New Hampshire than I felt here at Infineon Raceway."
Mark Martin, who shares the No. 8 U.S. Army ride with Almirola, will return to the No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. car in two weeks for the Daytona summer race.