History in the making: Daytona win special for entire No. 43 team
Larry McReynolds says Sunday's win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was huge for Aric Almirola, crew chief Trent Owens, and the entire Richard Petty Motorsports organization.
Aric Almirola's first-career Sprint Cup Series victory Sunday at Daytona was special for many reasons.
Streeter Lecka / NASCAR
By Larry McReynolds
I don't know if you could write an article long enough that could list what winning Sunday's race at Daytona means for Aric Almirola, Trent Owens and Richard Petty Motorsports. For Aric to get his first-career win, and for Trent to also get his first win together is extra special. I mean let's face it, Trent is essentially a rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief, so this is a really big deal for all them over there.
Then, of course, there is the symbolism of the No. 43 back in Victory Lane at Daytona. The other thing that goes hand-in-hand with all this is they are probably going to be in the Chase now. That's nothing short of huge for Aric, Trent, Richard Petty, but more so all their sponsors that have stuck with them through thick and thin. This would be the first time in the Chase format that Richard Petty Motorsports would have a team in the Chase.
Again, the benefits of winning Sunday are seemingly endless. It also put Aric into the Sprint All-Star race next May in Charlotte. That alone is a big. The other reality is once you are in the Chase, no matter how much we try to focus on the other competitors, the majority of the focus for the last ten races of the season will be on those sixteen Chase drivers. So my point is that's even more added exposure for Aric, the team and his sponsors.
No matter what Aric and Trent accomplish the rest of their careers, either together or separately, there is absolutely nothing like that first win. Sure my wins as a crew chief at Daytona and in the Sprint All-Star Race will always be so very special to me, but I always go back to my very first Cup win with Ricky Rudd at Watkins Glen in 1988, because there is only one first.
The other incredible storyline is obviously 30 years ago the No. 43 was in Victory Lane for Richard Petty when he got his 200th win with then President Ronald Regan in attendance at Daytona. The No. 43 hasn't been in Victory Lane itself since 1999, so that's another really big deal. You really have to write a two-page article to cover everything that went along with this win.
I know there will be some distractors that say "he was just lucky to be leading when the rains came." That's not fair in the least to him and that team. They led 14 laps Sunday. It wasn't like he just stayed out while everyone else pitted. Aric had led a number of laps prior to the rain moving in. It was just a huge victory on a number of different fronts for Aric, his team, his organization and his sponsors.