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Almirola rises up with Talladega pole

October 19, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

After suspension of crew chief, Almirola works to move forward and create a plan

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – The loss of crew chief Todd Parrott was sudden and surprising, but driver Aric Almirola says the team is trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

"It was certainly unexpected and something that we weren’t excited about by any means," Almirola, driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford, said Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. "That was definitely something that caught us all off guard and something that we have had to just work with on a day to day basis. Every day has been just a little bit different and we are trying to work through it and do the best we can.”

Parrott has earned 31 wins as a crew chief, including 27 with driver Dale Jarrett. The two paired to score Daytona 500 victories in 1996 and 2000 as well as wins at Indianapolis in '96 and again in '99. Jarrett, slated to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014, won the Cup title in '99.

RPM officials named Sammy Johns, vice president of operations and competition, to serve as interim crew chief.

Almirola, 18th in points with one top-five finish this season, will start on the pole in tomorrow's Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega. Rain forced officials to cancel Saturday's qualifying session, putting Almirola, who was quickest in Friday's first practice session, out front. 

The 29-year-old said he and Johns have spoken about the remainder of the 2013 season and how best to approach the final five races.

"We are working on a plan and I am sure they will announce the plan next week as to our plans for the rest of the year moving forward," he said. "We just have to work through that and we will keep that internal until we are ready to announce it.

"We have sat down and talked about it and tried to come up with the best solution for what is best for us. I will reiterate and I said it on Twitter yesterday or Thursday but Todd Parrott is a good person and a good crew chief and a good friend of mine. I think he has a lot of support and a lot of people rallying behind him to get through this difficult time. 

"That being said, we have a job to do and have to go out and race and do what is best for us. We have to figure out a plan."

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