Almirola finally gets Daytona checkered flag
July 11, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
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LOUDON, N.H. -- It took five days, but Aric Almirola finally got the checkered flag for winning last Sunday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver said the flag was in his No. 43 Ford when he arrived at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday morning.
"Obviously I didn't win under green-flag conditions," Almirola said following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at the 1.058-mile track. "So usually if you do, you swing back by and grab the flag from the flagman at the end of the race. I didn't get to do that, so this morning the flagman … brought (the flag) down to my … guys.
"When I got in the car this morning, the checkered flag was sitting inside my race car. That was really cool."
Almirola's win at Daytona was his first in 125 career Sprint Cup starts. It was the first win for the No. 43 team since the 1999 season with then-driver John Andretti at Martinsville.
The race was postponed from Saturday night due to rain, and was briefly interrupted on Sunday when showers hit the track shortly after the race began.
The rain returned after 112 of 160 scheduled laps had been completed, eventually forcing NASCAR and track officials to end the event.
The flag wasn't the only thing Almirola collected for his first win -- his No. 43 now sports a black and yellow winner decal over the driver's side door -- signifying a 2014 victory.
"That is really cool," Almirola said of the decal. "While racing go-karts as a youngster, when you would win a race, you would get a sticker and put it on your go-kart.
"The coolest thing was at the end of the year to see how many stickers you could accumulate on the side panel of your go-kart."