Aric Almirola says he spoke with Joey Logano on Monday night, ironing out their differences after an on-track dust-up last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Almirola had pointed words for Logano after their close-quarters battle for position late in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. Logano drove on to a third-place finish, while Almirola lost momentum and dipped to eighth place in the final order.
Almirola’s post-race interview Sunday contained hints at possible revenge, but in an interview Tuesday with NASCAR.com, the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford said that he’s on better terms with his Team Penske rival after their Monday evening phone conversation.
“I think we both know where each of us stands and I feel good about it,” Almirola said. “I know a lot of people are confused at why I was upset when you look at the replay, but the reality is that as race car drivers, we both know the situation that we were in, and he knows kind of where my head was at and what I was thinking and I know where his head was at and what he was thinking, and we’ll move on. We’ll go from there.”
Moving on for now involves just two more races on the Monster Energy Series calendar, this Sunday’s Can Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and the championship finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Logano is locked into the four-driver hunt for the title, thanks to his victory late last month at Martinsville Speedway. Almirola sits in a must-win scenario at Phoenix to qualify for one of the two remaining Championship 4 slots.
Almirola said he didn’t quite have enough oomph to contend with eventual race winner Kevin Harvick or runner-up Ryan Blaney, but indicated that had he gotten past Logano for third place, he would have been in prime position had something happened between the two front-runners.
Almirola chalked up another portion of the conflict to the difficulties with racing two-abreast at the 1.5-mile Texas track, causing his car to get loose entering Turn 3 as he ran to the low side of Logano. With Logano already cleared for the Homestead finale, Almirola said he didn’t expect such a hard-fought contest for the spot.
“I was hoping he’d cut me a break to be quite honest and that didn’t happen to be the case,” Almirola said. “I feel like if we go to Homestead and for whatever reason I wasn’t in the championship that he would expect the same out of me. He would expect me to cut him a break if we restarted with 30 laps to go and he was third and I was fourth, I feel like he would expect me to cut him a break and let him go race for a championship, and that’s kind of what I was hoping for. Whether that was wrong or right of me is beside the point. I was mad and upset, and it didn’t work out for me.”
Almirola admittedly was bitter in his post-race interviews, having lost a chance to capitalize on any possible Harvick-Blaney trouble over the final laps. His tumble out of the top five also cost the Stewart-Haas Racing driver precious points in his fight to stay alive in the Monster Energy Series playoff picture.
“These are high-pressure times and the intensity level is incredibly high, and emotions run high in situations like this,” Almirola said. “I got cameras and microphones stuck in my face immediately upon getting out of the car and being upset, and everybody heard it.”
That heat-of-the moment response created some reaction of its own, with broadcast commentators and others on social media critical of Almirola’s stance on being raced hard in a late-race situation. The 34-year-old driver said he hasn’t let the opinions of others ruffle him as he continues to chase his first premier series title.
“If I worried about what other people thought, I wouldn’t be here where I’m at today,” Almirola said. “People are always going to criticize, especially on social media. It gives people that their opinions mean absolutely nothing still a platform to say whatever it is that they want. I really could care less what anybody thinks about what I said or what I did or anything about Texas or otherwise.
“The people’s opinions that matter the most to me are (team owners) Tony Stewart, Gene Haas, all the guys on my 10 team and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, the people at Smithfield, Ford Motor Company — the people that directly impact my life and my career. All that outside stuff is just noise.”