Almirola Coming Home to Florida for First Cup Debut in Home State
by David Ferroni, Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- This weekend's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway carries a special meaning for Aric Almirola, who will be making his first Sprint Cup start in his home state of Florida.
The 24-year-old rookie, who is a 2002 graduate of Hillsborough High School in Tampa, has competed in Nationwide and Truck events at Homestead, but has never raced at the 1.5-mile track in NASCAR's premier division.
"Being that this race is close to home there will be relatives and friends keeping a close eye on me," said Almirola, who will be competing in his 12th Cup event of the season. "I am pumped about this weekend and feel confident this U.S. Army/DEI team will have a good showing. I also want to give our Soldiers a performance they can be proud of."
Almirola, who shared the No. 8 DEI ride with Mark Martin in 2008, has every right to feel upbeat about the Homestead race. He has claimed four top-20 finishes in his last five Cup starts -- 13th at Bristol (Aug. 23), 18th at New Hampshire (Sept. 14), 13th at Talladega (Oct. 5) and 20th at Martinsville (Oct. 19). He also had an eighth-place finish in the March race at Bristol.
"This is a great race team and I've enjoyed my association with every crew member," said Almirola. "We're 14th in owner points and if we can finish strong that will speak loudly for what our race team has accomplished this year with two different drivers. To finish 14th would be spectacular."
In his two previous starts at Homestead, Almirola finished 23rd in the 2006 Truck race and 18th in last year's Nationwide event.
"I always look forward to Homestead -- it's a fun track," added Almirola. "It's wide and you can race all over it. This is really exciting for me to drive the No. 8 Army Chevy Impala SS in the final Cup race of the year."
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