By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – The past week has shown a full range of emotions for Aric Almirola following his near miss at Dover last Sunday. Despite the frustration that came with how that race ended, the driver of the No. 10 Ford is looking to Talladega as an opportunity to bounce back.
Almirola sits 10 points below the cut-off line heading into Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 and explained that while the finish at Dover stung, he was able to put it behind him in a day or two and shifted his focus toward the task at hand.
“That’s the worst part is like when you go into it with low expectations and you’re not a dominant car and then all of a sudden you pop up and you’re running up front and it gets taken away you’re like, ‘Yeah, well. Shoot, we could have won that one,’” said Almirola.
“But when you’re like the dominant car and you’re leading laps and you’re running up front and you really feel like you’ve got a shot to win and it gets taken away, there’s a lot of emotions that go through that and just frustrated and mad and sad and angry and all of those things all at the same time. I was upset Sunday night, some of Monday and by midday Monday I was already focused on Talladega.”
Almirola elaborated further, noting that having a positive mindset is key when coming into the restrictor plate races like Daytona and Talladega.
His past success at the restrictor plate tracks only help to create that attitude change, with Almirola’s lone Cup Series win coming at Daytona back in July 2014. He also has two top-five finishes and two top-10 finishes at Daytona, along with two top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes at Talladega.
In his last four starts at Talladega, Almirola has not finished lower than eighth.
“I think coming into Talladega you do have to have the right mindset,” he said. “I think that is important, coming in here with the right frame of mind and being positive about it and begin excited. I feel like you’re already beat if you come here thinking, ‘Oh man, why did I sign up to do this. We’re just gonna wreck and this is ridiculous. I hate restrictor plate racing.’ If you come in with that kind of mindset, I feel like you’re already beat, but, for me, I’ve had enough success here that I don’t come in with that mindset.
“I come in with a mindset here of, ‘I can win this race. We can come here and we can win and we’re gonna run up front and score stage points and we’re gonna have fast cars.’ Previous success, I feel like, always helps the mindset coming to different race tracks and, for me, Talladega is a place where I’ve had success.”
There is also another X-factor that could help to boost Almirola’s morale when it comes to Talladega and that is the chance for a little payback on Austin Dillon should the opportunity arise. If you’ll remember, Almirola was leading in the waning laps of the season opening Daytona 500 before Dillon put the bumper to him and wrecked him en route to taking the coveted victory.
“Race car drivers never forget,” Almirola said with a smile.