Husqvarna to Sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing Development Driver Aric Almirola in NASCAR Busch Series Debut at Richmond HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., (May 4, 2006) - Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Aric Almirola will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut at ...
Husqvarna to Sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing Development Driver Aric Almirola in NASCAR Busch Series Debut at Richmond
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., (May 4, 2006) - Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Aric Almirola will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway when he attempts to qualify for Friday night's Circuit City 250.
A rookie in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Almirola is coming off a strong top-10 finish at Gateway International Raceway April 29. He will drive the No. 19 Husqvarna Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Busch Series race at Richmond.
"This is a pretty big step. The Busch Series regulars are good, but so are all the Cup drivers who race in that series," said Almirola, alluding to the high number of full-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers who also race in the Busch Series. "It makes qualifying for a Busch Series race tough and running a Busch Series race even tougher. But we feel like we're up for the challenge. We tested the No. 19 Husqvarna Chevrolet at Richmond a few weeks ago and it gave everyone on the team a lot of confidence. Your first start in any kind of racing series is always a little nerve-wracking, but I've never felt better about this weekend's 'first' at Richmond."
Almirola's rise from the short tracks of Florida to the professional touring series of NASCAR has come quickly, but so have the results.
The 22 year-old Hispanic from Tampa, Fla., began racing go-karts when he was eight. After winning many races and local titles in and around his home state, he took his talents to the national karting scene in 1998. He quickly made his presence known, qualifying on the pole for the World Karting Association Grand Nationals at Daytona Beach (Fla.) Municipal Stadium before finishing fourth in the season-ending point standings.
At 16, Almirola graduated to open-wheel modifieds - 2,750-pound race cars that put out over 700 horsepower. In 2000 he won the rookie of the year title in two separate modified divisions - Florida Modified and SARA (Southern Automobile Racing Association) Modified, while garnering his first career win in the Joslin Memorial 100 at Orlando (Fla.) Speedworld, beating the top drivers in Florida.
In March 2002, Almirola advanced from open-wheel modifieds to the Sunbelt Super Late Model Division, where he finished runner-up in the rookie of the year standings. Almirola continued in that division in 2003, winning three poles at USA Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., two poles at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and one pole at Bronson (Fla.) Speedway.
When Joe Gibbs Racing formed its diversity driver program with the late Reggie White in late 2003, Almirola beat out a host of challengers to win a seat in one of two Late Model stock cars fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Weekly Series. In two years of Late Model competition running at tracks throughout the Southeast, Almirola scored 10 victories, earning the chance to run four Craftsman Truck Series races at the end of 2005. Almirola didn't disappoint, notching top-10 finishes at Indianapolis Raceway Park and New Hampshire International Speedway.
"We're proud of our partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and equally proud of Aric's accomplishments," said David Zerfoss, president of Husqvarna Professional Outdoor Products North America. "Richmond will be a great experience for Aric as he works to further his racing career. His spirit and determination embodies the Husqvarna brand - strong, resilient and unable to fold under pressure."
"It's been pretty special watching Aric grow from Late Models to Trucks and now Busch," said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. "He's met every challenge and continues to look for more. Richmond will probably be his biggest test to date, but we have a ton of confidence in his abilities and the people working on that No. 19 Husqvarna Chevrolet. Richmond is a tough race to make, but Aric's a tough kid with a lot of talent. We're glad that both he and Husqvarna are a part of Joe Gibbs Racing."
Almirola will make two more Busch Series appearances in the No. 19 Husqvarna Chevrolet - June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Aug. 19 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.