Talladega II: Almirola Eager preview

Almirola Eager About First Cup Race at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 2, 2007) -- Apprehension? No. Anticipation? Yes. Those are the short answers to how Aric Almirola feels entering his first Nextel Cup race at the daunting Talladega...

Almirola Eager About First Cup Race at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 2, 2007) -- Apprehension? No. Anticipation? Yes.

Those are the short answers to how Aric Almirola feels entering his first Nextel Cup race at the daunting Talladega Superspeedway. The 23-year-old driver out of the Dale Earnhardt Inc. stable will pilot the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in this weekend's Cup event at the 2.66-mile Alabama track.

Sunday's race will mark Almirola's third Cup event of the season with the 01 team. His previous two Cup races were at Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 25) and California Speedway (Sept. 2).

The difference this weekend for Almirola and the Army team is that the Talladega race will be NASCAR's first superspeedway event for the Car of Tomorrow (COT). The Army team did conduct a test session with the COT at Talladega last month and Almirola was pleased with the results.

"The COT cars drafted really well and had a pretty good closure rate," offered Almirola. "I don't think any one car is going to get away. It's going to be a typical Talladega race. We'll have big packs and I am sure there will be a big wreck. It will be thrilling for the fans and I am very excited about driving in the race."

Though it will be his first Cup race at Talladega, it will not be his first competitive ride on NASCAR's biggest track. In his two previous races at Talladega, he placed 20th in the April Busch race and a 22nd in last October's Craftsman truck event.

"I learned a lot about drafting in those races," noted Almirola. "I drafted with some pretty good guys and hopefully they'll remember that this weekend. You just have to go out there and make friends to draft with."

Regarding an expectation for his Talladega Cup debut, Almirola said, "Obviously we want a strong result, but what you strive for is to stay out of trouble and be there in the end. That would be fun to be in the lead pack during the closing laps dicing and diving for position."

Almirola is sharing the 01 ride with veteran Mark Martin. After Talladega he is scheduled to drive in Martinsville, Va. and Phoenix. He will also co-drive the Army car with Martin in 2008.

"Since I've joined the 01 Army team I've had the good fortune of having Mark as a coach," said Almirola. "Whenever I get the opportunity, I intently observe how he approaches different situations. He's the master."

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Aric Almirola , Mark Martin