This weekend at Pocono Raceway is a monumental one for Aric Almirola. After his first Sprint Cup start in 2007, he had several years of only part-time rides with various teams. It took time, patience and perseverance to reach the point of having a full-time ride in the sport's premier national touring series. This is Almirola's fifth full season with Richard Petty Motorsports, and 170 of his 200 starts have been with the team. During his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Almirola has scored one win at Daytona International Speedway in 2014. He'll head to the Poconos this weekend in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford looking to secure his second win in the series to top off the monumental weekend.
Almirola has nine previous starts at "The Tricky Triangle". He tied his best finish of 18th place in the 2012 and 2015 seasons. Earlier this year, Almirola competed in the track's inaugural XFINITY Series race and finished in the 11th position.
"I thought we had a much better car than where we finished at Pocono back in June. We had some bad luck strike that cost us a better finish, but I thought that we had a Top-15, or possibly even a Top-10 No. 43 Smithfield Ford. So I'm looking forward to going back to Pocono this weekend. We've got a few key areas to work on before we get back there, but I'm confident that those improvements will come and it'll be a good weekend for our team.
"It's also going to be my 200th start, which is a pretty cool milestone. To say that I've been around this sport long enough to make 200 Sprint Cup starts is incredible. I remember my first race back at Las Vegas in 2007. I was so nervous; I didn't sleep a wink that whole weekend because I had dreamed about going Cup racing my whole life. So when I finally got the opportunity, I wanted to make the most of it. I'll definitely sleep better the night before race day this weekend, but I'm still just as excited to climb into a Sprint Cup car for my 200th start as I was for my first."