You know how in dictatorships, they always have a couple of stunt doubles to stand in for the head honcho -- you know, in case somebody decides to have a go at the king? Meet the Hendrick Motorsports stunt double -- Aric Almirola. As you can see there at right, he's spent time lately doubling for both Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, on duty in the event their wives went into labor early. But neither did, and Almirola was left to wander the track in a recognizable firesuit and, perhaps, impress a few less-than-savvy NASCAR fans.
But you don't get picked to replace two legends if you're a chump of a driver, and Almirola's skills got him named to the full-time seat in the Nationwide No. 88 for JR Motorsports. And Almirola's seat is about the only thing that's stable right now at JRM -- and that includes a certain part-timer.
At a Bristol press conference Friday, JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt pointed out that Danica Patrick "definitely had a difficult year getting used to these cars from where she’s came from. Still, everyone has to keep in check that she has run six Nationwide races and pretty much six stock-car races in her career. She is still very fresh and new at this and still has a lot to learn about the way these cars work."
Patrick's 2011 schedule with JRM is yet to be determined, as the team is waiting for the 2011 Indy Car schedule to come out in order to sync up her driving time through the two series.
The 7 car will play host to some famous names, if nothing else. Patrick is scheduled to run 13 races with GoDaddy.com sponsorship, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. taking it for four to six races. Beyond that, who knows? Perhaps Josh Wise, who's running for JRM this weekend.
The team has and will continue to take its knocks for the perceived shortcomings of its drivers. But bottom line, no Nationwide team has quite the star power of JR Motorsports -- even if their cars aren't always up close to the front. But with Almirola in the 88, that could change in a hurry.