Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be pulling double-duty this weekend as he fills in for injured driver Michael Annett in the No. 43 Pilot/Flying J Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Almirola spoke about competing in both events after Nationwide practice on Friday.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RUNNING BOTH RACES THIS WEEKEND? “I think first and foremost we all hope that Michael gets well quick, but, as far as for me, I think it’s fun. I’m a race car driver and I love to race, so any time I get an opportunity to go race is fun. I’m excited about this weekend. These guys have got a great group on that Pilot/Flying J Ford. Philippe (Lopez) and all those guys on that team do a great job and Michael did really well last year by finishing fifth in the points, so they’ve got a great program and they’ve got really fast cars. I’m looking forward to racing here tomorrow.”
IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME RUNNING THE MUSTANG? “Yeah, it is. I didn’t think about that, but this is my first time and it’s great. I love how it looks and it’s pretty fast as well, so I can’t wait until we get it out there for tomorrow’s race. It’s much different than the Cup car – drastically different from the Cup car – but that’s part of the fun, too. We get to drive something different and have to learn to adapt by driving a completely different car.”
YOU SAID AFTER THE 500 LAST WEEK THAT YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET OUT OF THERE AND NOT BE IN A POINTS HOLE. WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THIS WEEKEND? “We really just want to run well. We want to run like we did for the first 200 laps of the November race here. Our Farmland Fusion was really good out here in November and I know this is a different car, but some of the stuff we learned I feel like can translate over to what we have here. I expect to run well and I’m looking forward to it.”
IS THIS THE KIND OF PLACE WHERE YOU CAN START BUILDING MOMENTUM AND PUT TOGETHER SOME TOP-10, TOP-5 AND POSSIBLY WIN SOME RACES? “I feel like we’ve already got that momentum started at Daytona. Even though 13th isn’t necessarily something to really brag about, it’s still a good way to start the year. I feel real good about the way we started our season and I’m looking forward to keeping all of that rolling, starting right here in Phoenix.”