For years, Aric Almirola’s name in the record books has come with a weird asterisk. In 2007 at Milwaukee, he was just a part-time Nationwide (then Busch) Series driver for Joe Gibbs Racing trying to make a name for himself. Pegged as a backup for Denny Hamlin, Almirola was pressed into a start when the Cup driver’s helicopter ran late. Although running from the pole and dominating early, JGR chose to replace Almirola once Hamlin arrived. Hamlin slid in and rode on to an easy victory.
Twenty years. That’s how long it’s been, on May 29, since Jeff Gordon won his first NASCAR Cup Series race at the ripe old age of 22. One of the first to do so well, so young, Gordon encapsulated the perfect mix of talent, speed, sponsorship and confidence cloaked in invincibility. Four titles in a seven-year span had many pegging him as the man to knock off Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt atop the Cup championship ladder.
1. When will Jimmie Johnson’s Martinsville fortune run out? I’ve been writing and talking this week about the shared topic of many others tasked with putting words together about Sunday’s race. That topic? Jimmie Johnson’s magical Martinsville touch.
The Fifth of May was a day for underdogs everywhere. The little guy won. The Davids beat Goliath.
Front Row Motorsports’ taming of Talladega Superspeedway, the 2.66-mile track that is home to more action and unexpected turns of events than a pro wrestling cage match, might be the best feel-good story of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. A former start-and-park team conquered the day. It made many fans feel all warm and fuzzy.