“I think it was good to be part of the test at Kentucky Speedway with the repave. The track is a lot smoother now with much more grip. Kentucky as we know it is gone, and now, it’s resurfaced and reconfigured. So it was good to get some laps on that race track. But, I think that it will have changed quite a bit from when we were there for the test to when we show up this weekend to race.
“What a great weekend we had in Daytona,” said Almirola. “I got a win in the XFINITY Series, and we had a really fast No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion tonight. My car was handling well, and I could run with the leaders. But, crazy things happen in the draft and before you know it you’ve been shuffled back.
“I thought from the start of the race that I had a No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford Fusion that was capable of winning,” said Almirola. “It showed a lot of promise all night long. And, it was an emotional last few laps. I thought I had a shot to win but wasn’t sure I would get it done. I got a big push from the 7 car and then he pulled out and the 18 came and gave me a good push. I am really thankful for that.
“Daytona International Speedway is a special track for me. Coming to the Firecracker 400 was part of our family vacations every year when I was a kid. I remember sitting in the same grandstands watching every race, and they’re all special memories. So to go there and be a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is pretty awesome. Our team had a fast No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion there earlier this year, and we finished 12th in the Daytona 500.
“My team hustled today,” said Almirola. “We had a good No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion. The overall handling was better than it had been most of the weekend, and we were moving through the field. So it was unfortunate that we had the alternator issue, but my guys worked hard to get it fixed as quickly as possible.