ROMULUS, Mich. — NASCAR driver Aric Almirola made a pit stop at the Marriott near Detroit Metro Airport to preview the upcoming FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). The Monster Energy Cup Series race is scheduled for Sunday, June 18 in the Irish Hills area.
He was in town to promote the “Pie with Petty” special ticket package. Fans can attend a question-and-answer session with Almirola’s team owner Richard Petty and enjoy some apple bacon pie from Michigan’s Grand Traverse Pie Co. The ticket package costs $80 per person and can be ordered online at MISpeedway.com.
“I always get excited about coming to Michigan,” said Aric Almirola in an exclusive interview. “It’s two-fold. One, Michigan is a very fast race track and it’s fun to race at. Second, when we come here, there’s a lot of manufacturer pride. When you come here and drive a blue oval, you want to get that Ford into victory lane. I think Ford has been able to go to victory lane 35 times here at MIS. We’re so close to Dearborn that it makes it so much sweeter to go to victory lane.”
Congratulations on your win in the Sparks Energy 300 Xfinity race last Saturday.
“It was amazing. To go to victory lane at Talladega, is an awesome track to race at. It’s so much fun. My family was there. To do it so close to Florida and get a Ford in victory lane was awesome.”
What do you think of the new NASCAR rules including the stages?
“I think it’s great,” the driver of the No. 43 explained. “It’s adding a whole new element of excitement. It’s adding more intensity to the race. It’s just added a whole new dynamic that I’m really enjoying as a race car driver.”
What are your goals for the remainder of the NASCAR season?
“Our goals are to continue to run up front, run in the top 15, the top 10 and continue to build on that. If we can put ourselves in position enough times, we’re going to win a race. That’s our goal. We want to win and go to victory lane. We want to make the Chase. I think we’re capable of that.”
Outside of the racing, what do you enjoy here in Michigan? Many of the drivers like to go fishing at the lakes in the Irish Hills area near the track.
“I enjoy cycling. The roads are flat here so there’s not a lot of climbing. I enjoy biking here. My wife’s family is from Hartland, Mich., which is just north of Brighton. We enjoy coming up to Michigan to see some family that we don’t typically get to see.”
Rick Brenner is the new track president of Michigan International Speedway. He took over for the outgoing Roger Curtis. Brenner was the former president of DSF Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Eastern League.
“We’ve got a lot of new stuff we’re rolling out and a lot of old stuff we’re building upon,” Brenner said in an exclusive interview. “We’re looking to make it a great experience for the people who chose to spend their time with us. We know we have the best drivers in the world and the fastest track in the world. That’s going to be awesome.”
What are some of the upgrades that have been made to the facility since last season ended?
“Underway when I got there was new bathrooms in the infield. It’s going to be great for fans to have new, updates facilities there. We’ve got a gorilla show, we’ve got dueling pianos, we’ve got church services for our campers and we’ve got a bunch of strolling street performers throughout fan plaza. We’ve got a lot of little touches that add up to a great experience for fans.”
Please tell me more about the concerts that are happening during race weekend.
“Saturday night in June we’ve got Candlebox and Skid Row. It’s absolutely free. All you need is a Sunday ticket to the race. Those tickets start at $30. It’s a great value. We hope you can take us up on that. It’s a lot of fun.”
For tickets and more information about the FireKeepers Casino 400, visit www.MISpeedway.com.