In the Driver’s Seat with Aric Almirola

Above all, Aric Almirola remains optimistic for another great year with Stewart-Haas Racing. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Above all, Aric Almirola remains optimistic for another great year with Stewart-Haas Racing. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

All things considered, one could say that Aric Almirola is NASCAR’s poster boy for perseverance and tenacity.  After all, the 35-year-old Tampa, Fla. native pushed through tough times to his rewarding tenure with Stewart-Haas Racing.

To say the least, the driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion enjoyed his finest season-to-date in 2018.  Scoring a riveting win at Talladega along with four top-fives and 17 top-10’s, he drove to a career-best fifth place points finish.

While Almirola searches for his first win of 2019, he sits 10th after 19 races with a top-five and 10 top-10’s.  With this in mind, the 12th-year Cup driver looks for redemption at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

As a matter of fact, the amiable driver appeared set for a “Magic Mile” win, leading 42 laps before an untimely caution relegated him to a third-place finish.  Certainly, the Sunshine State native would love to hoist one of those infamous lobsters following Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.

Leading up to this race weekend, I caught up with Almirola to discuss about his season, a new endeavor to connect with fans, and visiting his family in Cuba.  Without further ado, let’s start getting “In the Driver’s Seat with Aric Almirola!”

Rob Tiongson :  In the midst of your second season with Stewart-Haas Racing, you’re backing up your terrific 2018 season with another strong start as we’re in the second half of the year.  How enjoyable has it been for you to race with SHR and know you’re a strong contender each race weekend?

By all means, like team owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, Almirola possesses a winner's attitude. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

By all means, like team owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, Almirola possesses a winner’s attitude. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Aric Almirola :  I can’t imagine it any other way.  We’ve had some ups and downs this season after a strong start, but we’re all trying to figure out how to get better as a team.  We’re still steadily improving and, like last year, we ramped it up during the playoffs and plan to do that again.

Rob Tiongson :  It’s no secret how tenacious but passionate each of your teammates are with their on-track efforts.  What is it like to work with Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, and Clint Bowyer?  And would you say you’ve each helped each other become stronger racers?

Aric Almirola :  We have an incredible variety at SHR that all complement each other.  Each driver has come from different paths. More importantly, our guys at the shop are all racers and that why I think we all work so well together.

Rob Tiongson :  You recently started a video series to bring fans closer to the action.  Would you say that the genesis for this was the advent of social media, and what are you hoping to accomplish with these videos?

Presently, Almirola hopes to connect with new and current fans with his video series. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Presently, Almirola hopes to connect with new and current fans with his video series. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Aric Almirola :  We’d like to give the fans a real view into my life and what it looks like to balance racing and reality.  I’d like to be seen as the most avid social media user and athlete as it pertains to reaching my fans and new NASCAR fans.

As an athlete today, you have to understand the business to amplify your career to the maximum.  And, for our partners like Smithfield, it gives them exposure in different fields as media is rapidly shifting to digital.

Rob Tiongson :  Let’s consider your racing journey and how hard you’ve worked to earn this opportunity in Cup.  Would you say it’s humbling when thinking about the events and moments that you’ve experienced along the way?

In due time, Almirola's second win with SHR is around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

In due time, Almirola’s second win with SHR is around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

Aric Almirola :  Last year, for the first time in my career, I have been able to compete for wins every time we go to the race track.  It’s very humbling to say the least.  Smithfield has been with me all the way.  And, it’s time to show to bring them to Victory Lane with a strong team like SHR.

Rob Tiongson :  I truly enjoyed the NASCAR Media documentary from last year where you visited your family in Cuba.  How was that experience like for you and how important is it for you to connect to your roots?

Aric Almirola :  That experience was incredible.  I can’t wait to go back.  It was great to show fans where I came from.

Rob Tiongson :  If SHR held a music festival for drivers and fans that lasted for two days, which bands or artists would you want to see live?

Without delay, Almirola knows who he'd want at an SHR music festival. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Without delay, Almirola knows who he’d want at an SHR music festival. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Aric Almirola :  I’m a big Corey Smith fan.  I’d like to see him come out.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Aric, Dakota Hunter, and Stewart-Haas Racing for making this feature possible!  In addition to TPF, keep up-to-date with Aric on his Facebook and Twitter channels as well as his official website!

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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