Memphis: Aric Almirola preview

FedEx Express to Sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing's Diversity Program Driver Aric Almirola in Morgan Dollar Motorsports No. 47 NCTS Silverado at Memphis Motorsports Park Statesville, NC -- In an extension of its extremely successful diversity program,...

FedEx Express to Sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing's Diversity Program Driver Aric Almirola in Morgan Dollar Motorsports No. 47 NCTS Silverado at Memphis Motorsports Park

Statesville, NC -- In an extension of its extremely successful diversity program, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will partner with Morgan Dollar Motorsports (MDM) and enter driver Aric Almirola in the #47 Chevrolet Silverado in the O'Reilly 200 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park. FedEx Express, which is headquartered in Memphis, will serve as the primary sponsor of the #47 machine while The Home Depot and Joe Gibbs Performance Motor Oil will serve as associate partners on the truck.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for our organization," said MDM team owner David Dollar. "There is no question that Joe Gibbs Racing has an eye for talented drivers and has proven they know how to win races and championships. We believe that extending their driver development program will provide the intermediate step they need to help cultivate their young drivers as they prepare for full-time entry into NASCAR's biggest series."

Almirola, a 21-year-old Hispanic driver from Tampa, Fla., will attempt to make his first career NCTS start July 23 at Memphis Motorsports Park. Almirola is also scheduled to compete in the NCTS event at Indianapolis Raceway Park on August 5.

Almirola is in his second year of NASCAR Weekly Racing Series competition. The driver of the No. 92 Home Depot Chevrolet with associate sponsorship from Rockwell Automation and Cintas has racked up four wins so far this season as he competes in big Late Model races throughout the Southeast. Last year, Almirola competed at the .4-mile Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., recording two wins, six top-fives and 15 top-10s.

"We are excited about doing this event with FedEx in the hometown of their corporate headquarters. David Dollar and his Morgan Dollar Motorsports team have assembled a first-class program in which we think Aric can be very competitive." said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR. "We have enjoyed watching Aric mature as a race car driver over the last two years, and seeing everything come together by having him run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is very fulfilling. The support we've received from The Home Depot, Fed Ex and General Motors while working with Aric has been key to giving him this opportunity. But we also remember that all of this wouldn't have been started without the vision of Reggie White and his commitment to bringing diversity to NASCAR."

The link between JGR and MDM began in 2004 when both Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart participated in the Chevrolet Silverado Celebrity All Star program. Between the two NASCAR Cup Series champions, they have driven the No. 47 Silverado a total of eight times in 2004 and 2005, scoring one win and five top-five finishes. Overall, the No. 47 Silverado has a total of 15 starts in its existence and has posted a remarkable record of one win, seven top-five and seven top-10 finishes.

J JGR's diversity program traces it roots back to May of 2003. In partnership with the late Reggie White, a Hall of Fame defensive end who played in the National Football League, JGR formed the diversity program to create a grassroots stock car team that would identify and assist minorities with the desire and talent to make a career in motorsports.JIn January of 2004 the diversity program became reality, thanks in large part to the support of JGR's sponsors, most notably, The Home Depot and MBNA -- the team's primary sponsors, and Rockwell Automation and Cintas -- the team's associate sponsors.

Prior to the opportunity with MDM, Almirola participated in a GM-directed test session at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.

"Aric did a terrific job in our test at Caraway," said Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing Program Manager for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "We tested quite a few talented young drivers that week and Aric's smooth and consistent style showed a lot of promise. We followed that test up with a test at Memphis in preparation for this week's race. Again, Aric did a great job. We look forward to seeing him race for 200 laps on Saturday."

"To work with Joe Gibbs Racing, and to now be paired with Morgan Dollar Motorsports is a great opportunity," Almirola said. "When the GM driver test was scheduled at Caraway a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity to drive. I thought I was at the top of my game, as far a driving a truck for the first time. After what I thought was a successful test, I sat down with J.D. Gibbs and Steve de Souza to discuss the options, and since they don't have a truck program, and the Gibbs drivers have had such success with Morgan Dollar and Randy Goss, we agreed it would be a great opportunity."

"Spending two days testing with the #47 Morgan Dollar crew along with Crew Chief Randy Goss, was a wonderful experience," added Almirola. "To also have Dennis Setzer as an experienced driver that I can sit down and discuss the trucks with has been a great help. I have never raced with these guys and it's going to be a huge learning curve for me. I honestly think that with Goss' experience on the box and the times we were running during our test, I'm expecting at least a top-10 run at Memphis. Then we turn right around and test and race at IRP, it's going to be exciting."

-mdm/jgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Dennis Setzer , Aric Almirola
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing