Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Eckrich Ford Fusion, met with media members following the final practice at Kentucky Speedway to talk about the heat, his practice session and his season to date.
HOW IS THE HEAT AFFECTING THE HANDLING AND EVERYTHING ELSE OUT THERE? “It is affecting everything. It is hot, incredibly hot and I can’t remember the last time it was this hot. It is plenty warm and our car has been slipping and sliding around quite a bit. We have some work to do. In qualifying trim I thought we were pretty good and we finished up sixth in the first practice. I think we will be okay in qualifying trim but we have to come up with something better in race trim.”
WHAT HAS MIKE FORD BROUGHT TO THE TABLE FOR YOU? “It has been really good. Mike is very thorough and he is a really good leader. It has been great to work with him. He has a lot of experience and has kind of taken me under his wing and helped me a lot with the racing part of it and with racing at this level. He has been more than just a crew chief, he has been a mentor and it has been fun to work with him and all the guys really respect him on the race team. He has been a great addition to Richard Petty Motorsports.”
HAS IT BEEN A BIG CONFIDENCE BUILDER? YOU GUYS HAVE ROLLED OFF PRETTY WELL IN RECENT WEEKS. “It has been a huge confidence boost to have him up on top of that box and making calls and adjustments. Ever since he has come on we have shown signs of being better. There are still things we need to work on and improve on. He has a lot of ideas he is still trying to get working into the system but it is a process. That is one thing that he reiterates time and time again, that it is a process and we look to keep trying to make it better and better. We feel like we are doing that. The last couple weeks have not been what we wanted but everything leading up that has been good and we know we unloaded here and are sixth in the first practice and as long as week keep doing things right and seeing positive results and we keep getting better, that is what it is about.”
IT IS THE KING’S 75TH BIRTHDAY MONDAY, ANY SPECIAL PLANS AROUND THE SHOP? “I don’t know. I think they might be secret and I don’t want to spill the beans.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU WERE IN PRACTICE? “I thought in the first practice in qualifying mode we were pretty good and had a really good package. We were sixth quick, so I am happy with that. We needed a little more speed but I thought we were really close. We switched over to race trim and we were not very good, so we have to go to the drawing board and figure something out a little different than what we’ve got. What we have isn’t good enough. Mike and our engineers are up there in the lounge working pretty hard at it and poking away at the computer trying to make it better. We will go out here and hopefully get a nice lap for qualifying. We got a good draw going out late and that is going to help. Track position is going to be really important so hopefully we lay a good lap down tonight in qualifying and get a good race package for tomorrow.”