As disappointed as Aric Almirola was not to advance in the playoffs, he tried to keep things in perspective after climbing out of his car in Charlotte.
“It didn’t work out the way that I wanted it to, but I’m still really blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity,” he said. “So many people put a lot behind me so it stings, but the sun is gonna come up tomorrow, I’m still gonna be Aric Almirola; I’m still gonna be a husband and a father. They’re not gonna take my birthday away, so as disappointed as it is, it’s not the end of the world.”
Almirola finished 14th in the Bank of America Roval 400 and missed transferring into the next round by five points. He had started the day three points above the cutline. Without a shot at the championship, the goal becomes finishing as high in the points as possible while building for next season.
“Off the top of my head I can’t help but think about 2017, the 22 (Joey Logano) missed the playoffs and then comes back the very next year and wins the championship,” said Almirola. “We can’t let this define us, missing the next round and the cut. We’ll continue to build, and sometimes you go through adversity, and it makes you better and strong.
“Last year, it seemed like everything kind of came relatively easy for a new race team and me being new to the organization, to go on the run that we had last year and finish fifth in the points. Unfortunately, this year we’re going through some adversity.”
Almirola and crew chief Johnny Klausmeier were in a position to fight for the final transfer spot as the race wound down. A caution on Lap 90 changed the situation for the No. 10 Ford team. Running inside the top 10, Almirola stayed on track while the competition pitted for fresh tires. It was the wrong call, and Almirola sank on the restart while Alex Bowman charged to second place and Almirola had to battle Ryan Newman. Newman might have been in a position to take the final spot until he messed up the backstretch chicane and was penalized.
“I knew he was gonna have to make a pass-through,” said Almirola. “I was putting a lot of pressure on him there trying to get by him. He was either gonna make a mistake or I was gonna move him out of the way, and he made a mistake but it wasn’t enough. We still had to get more cars.”
With Bowman then finishing second and Almirola sliding outside the top 10, that gave Bowman the last spot while Almirola was the first driver on the outside looking in.
“They said we missed by five points, so the strategy we were on if the race would have continued to go green to the end, we were gonna be in a good situation,” said Almirola.
“I think we were seven or eight points to the good. That caution came out and kind of put us in a spot where we had to choose, and I knew and Johnny knew that all the guys we were racing in points were gonna do the opposite of whatever we did. We were the first car ahead of all those guys on the cutline, so we stayed out and made our bed and all those guys came and got tires. That’s just part of it.”