Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NASCAR's Aric Almirola seeks to regain driving spot

DAYTONA BEACH — Drivers and crew members were quick-stepping through an emptying garage area about an hour before the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night, and Aric Almirola was on the hunt. He stopped to pat a shoulder at the Red Bull hauler, waved to a Penske crewman, chatted up Michael Waltrip Racing general manager Ty Norris.

"Looking for a job, man," the 25-year-old Tampa native said. "At least nobody is shooing me away."

This was supposed to be Almirola's first full season at NASCAR's highest level, as Mark Martin's replacement in the No. 8 Chevrolet at Dale Earnhardt Inc. But as the economy sunk, DEI merged with Chip Ganassi Racing, their five combined Cup programs withered to two, and sponsorship for the No. 8 car ran out after seven races.

Earnhardt/Ganassi could have an opening in 2009 if, as expected, Martin Truex announces this week he will leave for MWR, but Almirola said he had not spoken with Ganassi about it.

"That's not up to me," he said. "Those have been internal discussions that really have not involved me. Whatever happens I will be ready, race there or race somewhere else."

Almirola said Ganassi has suggested he would allow him to leave if he finds work elsewhere.

Almirola, a former winner in the Nationwide series who has twice had a team dissolve under him since he left Joe Gibbs Racing's developmental program in 2007, has run a Nationwide race for Curtis Key and three truck races for Billy Ballew (finishing fourth at Memphis) this season.

MAYFIELD SPEAKS: Driver/owner Jeremy Mayfield said a statement during the drivers' meeting he hoped to race next Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. Mayfield, suspended indefinitely after a failed drug test — NASCAR later identified the drug as methamphetamine — was granted a temporary injunction by a federal judge on Wednesday but said in the statement "we had less than twenty-four hours to prepare the car, assemble a team, get sponsorship and travel to Daytona. Ultimately, we were unable to get this done in time."

Mayfield compared the "pain" of the past two months to the death of his father in 2007 and said the ensuing controversy is "the last thing (wife) Shana or I want for anybody."

ALL THE KING'S MEN: Richard Petty, wearing a white firesuit reminiscent of those he wore in winning a record 200 NASCAR races, was honored on the 25th anniversary of his final victory in the Firecracker 400. Petty posed with the Sprint Cup field and a banner reading "One King, 200 Wins, 25 Years Later, Congratulations Richard."

HALL PASS: Three-time series champion Darrell Waltrip says he'd like to be inducted with NASCAR's first Hall of Fame class in May, but admits his credentials likely aren't quite adequate. The grand opening, he said, would be the perfect time to squeeze in a few more.

"They've got this great big building and they're going to have five people they induct first time in," he said. "That's selfish on my part. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get in on the first round. … The important thing is you're in eventually."

NASCAR's Aric Almirola seeks to regain driving spot 07/04/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 4, 2009 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  2. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  3. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.
  4. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win


    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …

  5. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.