‘I’m the only driver that’s already ready for Daytona next year’: Aric Almirola on his move to Stewart-Haas Racing

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Aric Almirola talks with Alan Cavanna about his move to Stewart-Haas Racing and making the most of the best opportunity of his career.

- Aric Almirola called it the final step of his goal, a top ride with a top team. It happened today. What's this mean to you?

- It means the world to me. You know, I've been dreaming about this since I was a little kid, and all I really ever wanted to be was a professional race car driver. And then once you attain that goal, you're like, all right, I'm going to move my goal to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing.

And then when I finally made it to the top level of this sport, the final goal was to race for one of these teams that's a championship winning team and that competes for wins on a regular basis, and they've proven that they do that right here at Stewart-Haas Racing.

So I couldn't be more excited about this opportunity and to have Smithfield to come on board. They've been a great partner of mine for the last 6 years. Tony, and Gene Haas and everybody to have the belief in me that I can go out and get the job done, I'm ready. I'm the only driver that's already ready for Daytona next year.

- A ride like this comes with expectations, though. Are you ready for those expectations, race wins, playoff appearances? Are you ready for those expectations?

- Absolutely. If I wasn't, that means I'd just be riding around, right? If I didn't have any pressure, you know, I think that that means that I would just be content to be a part of this sport and just go out there and ride around, but that's not who I am. I'm a competitor, and I want that pressure, because that means that I'm in a competitive race car. That means that I have chances to win races, and it's on me.

Every athlete that wants the ball in the final minutes, they're the ones that rise to the occasion, and I want to be that guy.

- I think back to, really, just a few months ago, maybe your career in jeopardy with that injury in Kansas. Did you ever think a moment like this may not happen? Was there a time like that?

ARIC ALMIROLA: Yes and no. I mean, I think we all have our doubts as we go through our life and our careers. But for me, I've always had faith, and now here I am with the opportunity of a lifetime. So there was moments of doubt, there was moments of uncertainty, but I've been able to conquer all of those. And I'm excited about this opportunity, and I feel like this is something I've been waiting for for a long time.

- Well, congrats on the news.

Most people are looking forward to the off season. Aric Almirola--

- Not this guy.

- Yeah, not him. He's looking forward to Daytona.