DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Performance Racing featured Aric Almirola and his six-year old son, Alex, at the Ford’s Garage in Dearborn, Mich. for a media question and answer session to discuss the upcoming race at Michigan International Speedway. He drives the No. 10 Mustang for team Stewart-Haas.
“Ford is doing a good job at getting to be where we want to be,” says Almirola. “NASCAR has been about hard racing, fender to fender and side-by-side racing. Racing with the new rules package means the cars are driving slower. The cars go from 200 mph to 195 mph on the straightaway and 165 mph on corners. “There is a lot of opportunity for cars to be closer together. Optically, for the fans, it’s more exciting.”
Almirola gave an analogy of driving behind other cars. “If you have a boat on a lake and the water is perfectly smooth, and your boat is directly behind it, there is going to be a wake. That is challenging for the driver who drives behind the leader.”
How is the passing at MIS? “With passing, you have to try and move around to get clean air into your car. You have to be mindful of the moves you have to make. There is a risk of playing offense. The cars side-by-side has the advantage. You have to completely defend your position. At MIS, we will be very aggressive, you have to try to get side-by-side as opposed to getting behind the cars. I think passing in Michigan will have more side-by-side racing. Driving curves is all about timing, drafts and runs. Since the re-pave five years ago, the track has got more grip.”
Does body weight play a role in driving? “Driver’s weight can play a factor. Every car weighs the same. Every car weighs 3,400 pounds total including the driver. We have to strip down to our boxers and get weighed. Me, being heavy, is never advantageous. You need to keep your weight in check. You don’t want to be one weight one month and one month later, weigh 10-20 pounds heavier. That is not advantageous.”
Are all road courses the same? “All the road courses have their challenges. The g-force is on our body; it’s the traction on the body. I do enjoy coming to Michigan even though I don’t care for the track. My favorite track is Dover. Top speed at Dover is 175 mph. This is the one track we go to that feels like a roller coaster.”
How can we get the fans to fill in the empty seats? “I don’t think all tracks are empty. I feel personally, society has changed. People are entertained in different ways. That’s the challenge not only for NASCAR but for everybody. NASCAR has created a very family-friendly atmosphere. It’s an adrenaline rush. MIS is really promoting the kids coming with their parents. It’s a great experience for the family. I like what MIS is doing to promote families.”
How important are your teammates? “Teammates are important. There is not a stand-alone team because you got to have people to lean on. All of us that drive a Ford, we want the Ford team to win. We, as a race team, cannot operate without our partners. As a Ford driver, I want to win.”
In closing, Almirola says he’s 35 years old and in the prime of his career. “I feel like I can do this for 7-8-9 years at my optimum performance. I’ve got the best home/life balance and am in my best physical shape with nutrition and wellness. I put the time in at the gym. I am able to carry my load. I have been blessed to have this incredible opportunity and shame on me if I don’t use it.”
What will be my next career? “God has me where he wants me to be. This is Plan A. Being in the moment, I haven’t had to find Plan B.”
The upcoming race at MIS is scheduled for the weekend of June 7-9, 2019.
For tickets and more information about the FireKeepers Casino 400 NASCAR race weekend, visit www.MISpeedway.com.