Aric Almirola finally feels like he earned an XFINITY win
It only took Aric Almirola nine years to erase the asterisk in front of his name.
Almirola, a native of nearby Tampa, Florida, scored a popular victory in Friday night’s Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
It was an emotional win for Almirola because it righted a wrong that happened in June 2007.
Back then, Almirola drove for Joe Gibbs Racing. And at an XFINITY race in Milwaukee, Almirola qualified on the pole and led the race.
But midway through, Denny Hamlin arrived at the track after practicing his Sprint Cup car at Sonoma Raceway earlier in the day. At a sponsor’s insistence, JGR pulled Almirola from the car and had Hamlin finish the race. Hamlin won, but because Almirola started the race, he was credited with the victory.
Incensed and humiliated, Almirola left the track before the race ended and shortly thereafter quit the team.
Friday’s Daytona victory finally put that nightmare to rest because he now officially has victories in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series.
“In 2007 I was credited with a win but never felt like I deserved that,” Almirola said after Friday night’s race. “Tonight I do.”
And Almirola made no secret of how bad the Milwaukee experience was.
“I have nothing. I didn’t take anything from I,” Almirola said of the Milwaukee race. “I didn’t take their money. I didn’t take the trophy. I didn’t take any pictures in victory lane. I left before the race was over. That was not my race to win.”
Almirola said he gave the trophy to his then-crew chief Dave Rogers.
“When they called me at the shop that week to tell me how thankful they were and Joe (Gibbs) and JD (Gibbs) gave me the trophy, I took it over to the Busch shop and gave it to Dave Rogers,” said Almirola. “I felt he deserved it. He made the car good enough for me to qualify on pole and lead all those laps.”
Fortunately for Almirola, that’s all history now.
.@aric_almirola is a good guy who has literally clawed to get everything he has out of this sport. Good to see him enjoy success.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 2, 2016
— Mark Martin (@markmartin) July 2, 2016