Aric Almirola showed improvement in his road course skills earlier this season at Sonoma Raceway when he finished eight spots better than his previous best finish. This weekend, Almirola looks to continue that progression at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He will be driving the No. 43 Smithfield Ford this weekend and leaning on teammate and two-time winner at the Glen, Marcos Ambrose.
Almirola scored his best Sprint Cup road course finish at the New York track last season. He also tallied his career-best road course finish in the NASCAR Nationwide series at the Glen with an eighth-place finish in the 2011 event.
No. 43 Crew Chief Todd Parrott won the last two events at Watkins Glen with Ambrose at the helm and has compiled one pole, four top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
“You can’t compare Watkins Glen and Sonoma at all. Sonoma is like the Martinsville of road courses, and then when you go to Watkins Glen, it’s like Charlotte. It’s just so much faster. The speed that we carry at Watkins Glen is unbelievable. It’s a fun road course. It’s just extremely fast. Sonoma is really slow and technical. Watkins Glen is wide open.
“I enjoy road racing. I wish I was better at it. Everyone enjoys something they are good at. The better I get at road racing, the more I learn from Marcos, the more I enjoy it. Going back to Watkins Glen, I’m really looking forward to seeing the difference from last year. Each time I go to a road course, I get a little more comfortable, so track time will be really important to do well in the race. My goal is to learn as much as I can, stay on the track and beat my best finish there.”
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:
“Aric has shown a lot of improvement on road courses this year. We had a really good test at Sonoma where he logged a ton of laps. That carried through for the race, and he posted his best finish at the track. The key for him will be to get some good track time during practice, and having a teammate like Marcos (Ambrose) will really help us. We will be able to lean on the No. 9 team with our setups and then dial them in for Aric. If he can get a good rhythm for the race, I’m confident he will do well on Sunday.”