Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Sports

Ask Aric Almirola: What’s been key to the best start of his NASCAR career?

The Hillsborough High alumnus has five consecutive top-10 finishes.

Tampa’s Aric Almirola added to the best stretch of his career last weekend with his ninth-place run at Martinsville.

It was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish in the Cup Series and puts him sixth in points entering Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Only Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick have as many top 10s as Almirola does through the first six races.

The Tampa Bay Times asked the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford about his strong start in Ask Aric — a periodic feature where the NASCAR playoff contender shares his thoughts on racing, the season and his hometown.

You’re in the middle of the most consistent stretch of your career with five straight top 10s. What do you attribute that to?

I think what I attribute to the great start to the season is really just having that year of working together with this team last year. Experience is key at this level. Everybody’s so good and so competitive that as you gain experience with each other and your team, you just become more confident, and you start to unload at the racetrack with a faster race car. And you have more ideas of what to expect week in and week out. That helps. That helps tremendously.

Our team is really young. We’ve got a lot of young guys, and they were in new positions and new roles last year — including myself being new to the team last year. So to take all of that newness and kind of work through that and work all the kinks out, and you saw the consistency in how well we performed the last half of the season in 2018.

I really feel like 2019 is just picking right up where we left off, and we’re continuing to grow and build on that experience. When you look at the great race teams in the garage area, the guys that typically have the most success in general have a lot of experience working together.