News & Media


Almirola states case for 2013 with top-five finish

October 28, 2012, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com

Hoping to get another opportunity in No. 43 Ford with Richard Petty Motorsports

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Aric Almirola doesn't have any guarantee of a ride after Homestead, but he's certainly trying to make the decision of whom to put in the No. 43 Ford in 2013 an easy one for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Earlier in the week, the team announced an extension of its two-car deal with Ford for next season, but didn't elaborate on whether drivers Marcos Ambrose and Almirola would be returning -- as their contracts also expire after the season.

Ambrose said he's close to re-signing with RPM. And after finishing fourth Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, Almirola believes he has a good case to present to team owner Richard Petty the next time the subject is broached.

"I want to be there. I'm having a lot of fun working with [crew chief] Todd Parrott and all these guys on this No. 43 team. So hopefully we'll get something done real soon."

--ARIC ALMIROLA

"I feel like I'm close to getting it done," Almirola said of an extension. "I want to be there. I'm having a lot of fun working with [crew chief] Todd Parrott and all these guys on this No. 43 team. So hopefully we'll get something done real soon."

Standing on pit road after the race, Almirola couldn't control his enthusiasm for the decisions Parrott made all day to turn a "horrible" car into a top-five contender at the end of 500 laps.

Almirola started 10th but was in danger of being lapped early in the race. He struggled to get track position for most of the race, but when Kevin Harvick's engine imploded on Lap 474, Parrott called Almirola in for a two-tire gamble.

Running well outside of the top 10 at that point, Almirola wound up 10th on the restart -- and the car responded like it qualified Friday. He picked off five cars over the next seven laps, then got around Jeff Gordon following the final restart of the race.

"It was all Todd Parrott," Almirola said. "He made a great call to get two tires. We were just going to be average -- and he got us some track position. And even though this is a little half-mile short track, you'd be amazed at what track position will do for you."

Almirola and Juan Montoya fought over a hotly-contested piece of property early in the race, with Almirola feeling like Montoya was holding him up -- and Montoya responding with more than a loving nudge.

"We were both battling for about 40th at the beginning of the race," Almirola said. "We were horrible. And the leaders were coming, and I was way faster than him. I was trying to get by him and he kept holding me up, holding me up, holding me up. Finally, the leader was the next car back so I moved him out of the way. And he went down into Turn 3 and tried to wreck me.

"I was just telling him that I didn't know how long one was supposed to wait before you moved somebody out of the way. I didn't know what the proper etiquette was in Formula 1. But here at Martinsville, it's time to go."

As Montoya passed by on his way out of the speedway, Almirola stopped in mid-thought and quickly walked after him to further discuss the incident. But it didn't wipe away the smile from his face when he thought about getting a bit of vindication Sunday following one of his most disappointing days at Kansas the previous week.

Almirola appeared to be the class of the field on the newly repaved Kansas Speedway, but wound up 29th after a series of incidents eventually put the No. 43 Ford in the wall for good after 212 laps.

"You look at the way we ran at Kansas -- when I thought we probably had the best car there -- and blow a tire and don't get the job done," Almirola said. "But we led a lot of laps and everybody knew we were there. We were really, really strong.

"And then to come here and rebound the way we did today, and to come out of here with a top-five finish, I don't know."

It's fun to run well, Almirola said. But it may be even more fun to if he will have the chance to return next year and do it all over again.

"We've just got a lot of momentum," Almirola said. "I've been having more fun these last five weeks at the race track than I've ever had. When you come with a group of guys that just have fun, it makes it fun. If you're not having fun at your job, you've got to go do something different."