Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/7/14
Daytona_500_practice_0b81

CONCORD, N.C. - The U.S. Air Force returns to the No. 43 Ford of Aric Almirola as the nation celebrates the Fourth of July holiday week at the “Birthplace of Speed.”  The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes its second trip of the season to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at the super-fast Daytona International Speedway. 

The U.S. Air Force scheme is not only an appropriate salute to the military for Independence Day, it also brings good luck.  The last time the team ran the Air Force scheme (May in Charlotte) Almirola won the pole.

On the holiday that celebrates the United States’ birthday, Almirola will also be celebrating the birthday of “The King.”  Team owner and racing legend Richard Petty turned 75 on Monday.  Almirola will attend a birthday bash in Daytona Beach Wednesday to mark Petty’s milestone.

Almirola has two Cup career starts at the 2.5-mile oval.  He also has seven combined starts in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series at Daytona, including a start from the pole in Nationwide (2007).

Aric Almirola on Daytona: “It’s perfect having the Air Force on our car this week.  We’re celebrating our nation’s independence and all the freedoms that come with it.  We wouldn’t have those freedoms without the men and women who go out every day and protect them for us.  I’ll be really proud to stand next to that car on Saturday night with members of the Air Force by my side.

“We’ve actually got two things to celebrate this week.  It’s also Richard Petty’s 75th birthday this week, and we’re going to have a party for him that, of course, is fit for a king.  I have such respect for him and pride in driving that ’43′ car for his team.  If I could accomplish half of what he did in his career, that would be something special.” 

Crew Chief Mike Ford on Daytona: “Racing at Daytona seems to have come full circle over the past year and a half.  We had the tandem racing last year after the repave.  But then this year’s 500 kind of took us back to pack racing with the changes NASCAR made to the cooling system.  I think we all expect to see that again this week.  So you’ve got to really take care of your motor, being careful not to overheat running in the middle of the pack.  You’ve also got to be on your toes as a driver.  As we see every time at a plate race, good cars get taken out just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I think this can be a really good weekend for Aric.  He’s got experience at Daytona in a Cup car, unlike some of these other tracks we’re going to where it’s his first time.  I wasn’t with the team for the 500 earlier this season, but he ran really well then.  He had a fast car and ran up front before he got collected in an accident toward the end.  So if we can just stay out of trouble, I think it can be a good weekend for our Air Force Ford.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 722 for Daytona, the same car Almirola ran in the Daytona 500 in February.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bears coach apologizes for anonymous criticism of Cutler

Report: Wisconsin coaches never got promised car, car stipends

Derek Jeter shares sage advice on how to avoid bad press

St. Louis Rams make monetary donation to police charity

Confusing: Marlins GM Dan Jennings trades P Dan Jennings

Tigers GM: Detroit not in 'active pursuit' of Max Scherzer

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rondo channels Brady, accepts blame for Celtics’ struggles

Report: FSU QB Jameis Winston won’t attend Heisman ceremony

Warriors GM: We have reached out to Ray Allen

Twins add Ervin Santana to a veteran-heavy rotation

Jeff Fisher wants Sam Bradford back with Rams in 2015

Nick Young on Magic's tank talk: Chill before I knock you out

2014's best sports media feuds

WATCH: Footage of Kobe's practice meltdown has surfaced

The Matt Kemp trade feels like the Vernon Wells trade

FOX to showcase Johnny Manziel's first start to the nation

DeSean Jackson plans to wear custom ‘I Can’t Breathe’ cleats

The 10 most expensive bowl games of 2014-2015

Women’s Tennis Association signs a new $525M TV contract

The Pistons are really bad and there’s no end in sight

Jon Gruden on Jay Gruden ‘mess’ in DC: ‘I wish him luck’

Bill Belichick trolls Rob Gronkowski over kitten photos

Los Angeles Dodgers rework the script and reload the clip

Astros book Taylor Swift concert at stadium during playoffs

NASCAR News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The best sports media feuds of 2014

Jeter advises on how to avoid bad press

Video surfaces of Kobe's practice tirade

Tigers GM: Team not pursuing Scherzer

Dodgers rework the script, reload the clip

Astros book Swift show during playoffs

10 amazing Heisman Trophy statistics

Dodgers trade Matt Kemp to Padres

10 injuries that changed NFL season

Twice-traded pitcher sends great tweet

Pettine 'excited' to see Manziel

5 NFL players who could be traded in offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.