Aric Almirola has conquered the "Monster Mile" in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and he is confident he can repeat the feat at NASCAR's highest level. Heading to Dover (Del.) International Speedway for this weekend's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, the driver and his No. 43 Smithfield/Jani-King team have their sights on Victory Lane. After winning the pole for last weekend's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Speedway, a win is the next step on this team's to-do list.
Almirola went to Victory Lane at Dover in the 2010 Camping World Truck Series in just his second start at the one-mile oval. He also has three Nationwide starts at Dover - all top-15 finishes.
The team welcomes Jani-King as co-sponsor with Smithfield for the Dover race weekend. Jani-King, a commercial cleaning service with more than 12,000 franchised locations, is also an associate sponsor on the No. 43 Ford Fusion for all other 2012 races.
Almirola will be sharpening his golf game while he's in Delaware, participating in the "Drive for Autism" Celebrity-Am Golf Outing at DuPont Country Club on Thursday. He'll also practice his swing at two appearances at the PGA display at the speedway, Saturday from 11 to 11:20 a.m. and Sunday from 9:45 to 10:05 a.m.
Comments from Smithfield/Jani-King Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"We're all really eager to get back in the car and go racing again after earning the pole at Charlotte. That was a big boost in confidence for our team and an accomplishment that proved we're working in the right direction. It's all about improving and making progress. This is my first year with Richard Petty Motorsports, and Mike Ford has been on board for just about a month now, so making improvements week to week is what it's all about right now.
"It's great to have Jani-King on board with us this year and have them share the car with Smithfield for the race this weekend. I've had success at Dover before in the Camping World Truck Series and even run pretty well in the Nationwide Series, too. So, even though this will be my first race in a Cup car there, I think we can have a pretty solid run for all our partners.
"I'm looking forward to getting onto the golf course Thursday. The 'Drive for Autism' tournament is a great event put on every year and I'm happy to participate. There's something about getting out on the greens where it's nice and quiet and just enjoying a relaxing game of golf. And it's for a good cause so it doesn't even matter where we finish. Then I'll be getting some tips from a golf pro at the PGA display at the track on Saturday and Sunday, too. So, if I don't do well on Thursday during the tournament, I've got someone lined up to fix me up."
Comments from Crew Chief Mike Ford on Dover:
"Dover is a challenging track. You've got to have a good-handling car and one that gets through the turns well, so our goal is to unload with a pretty close set-up so we're just fine-tuning during practice. Aric's also got to be on his game during the race. When guys wreck at Dover, cars go sliding all over, so you've got to be ready to try to dodge any trouble that happens in front of you.
"Winning the pole at Charlotte was a great shot in the arm for this team. When I came to this team a few weeks ago, I could see that they had all the pieces. It was just a matter of putting them together, paying attention to all the details and executing. Now we just have to build off that and keep improving, and I have no doubt that we will."
Petty Racing PR