NASCAR America: Aric Almirola: Debut with Stewart-Haas has been ‘what I imagined’

Daniel McFadin
NBC Sports

Things are looking up for Aric Almirola after only four races behind the wheel of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Ford.

Almirola is 10th in the point standings after earning his first top 10 on Sunday at ISM Raceway.

NASCAR America’s Mary Snider met with Almirola to discuss how his tenure with SHR is going so far.

“It’s been exactly what I imagined,” Almirola said. “I thought we’d get off to a good start and be competitive and that’s been my main focus and (crew chief) Johnny (Klausmeier’s) focus. We really wanted to get through this first stretch of races and run top 15. That was our goal, to go out and finish on the lead lap, run in the top 15 and be in the hunt. We’ve done exactly that and we’re putting ourself in position in the points to make a run at making the playoffs.”

Almirola, who spent the last six years driving the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports, credited being able to see driver data from his teammates for helping speed his progress.

“It’s changed everything for me,” Almirola said. “I now get to look at driver data from other drivers and really talented drivers at that. Their cars are driving good and they’re fast and you get to talk to them after practice and really understand what it is they’re looking for in their car to drive like on Saturday to be good on Sunday.”

Almirola, who has one Cup win, said the four races so far have been “very validating” for him after being “average at best” the last six years.

“As a race car driver, you never know where you stack up,” Almirola said. “Because so much of it is driven on equipment and team. For me, for the last six years I’ve really never known, because you feel like you’ve got an excuse. ‘Well, we’re an underfunded team,’ or ‘our equipment is not where it needs to be.’ So you feel like you have that as an excuse. But you come here to Stewart-Haas Racing, there’s no excuse, right?”

Watch the above video for more from Almirola.

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