Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola had another hard meeting with a wall Sunday. A few years ago, Almirola hit the wall at Kansas Speedway breaking his back and taking him out of the car for three races.
Sunday at Dover Almirola was working on putting together a decent race in a season that has seen him and the No. 10 struggle. Early in the 400 laps it appeared that it would be another forgetful day in a season that has seen the team score only one top-10 finish in the first 12 races. Early Sunday Almirola went a lap down. But the crew kept working on the car and soon Almirola was inside the top 10 and looking for more.
It all came apart of lap 302 when Almirola’s Ford broke loose and slammed hard into the outside wall. The car was on fire as it came to a stop, but Almirola still took his time getting out. When he did he bent down and put his hands on his knees. He had to be helped to the rescue vehicle.
After some anxious moments, Almirola emerged from the infield care center with a clean bill of health.
“I’m OK. That was another hard hit,” he said. “My body is hurting. It doesn’t want to take any more hard hits like that.
“I don’t know what exactly happened. I think something in the suspension broke. It wasn’t like a right-front went down. It wasn’t like all of a sudden. A couple laps before that I felt like I was laying on the splitter pretty hard, which is unusual that far into a run, and I kind of mentioned it on the radio and then went down into turn three, the worst possible place — well, there’s no good place at Dover to have a suspension failure or a tire go down — but our guys deserve so much better. “
Almirola was scored 37th last in the field. It was the second consecutive week Almirola finished last.
“Our partners, Smithfield, Ford, everybody, Go Bowling, Pit Boss Grills, everybody that helps us deserves so much better,” Almirola said. “We’re so much more capable, but God is really testing us this year.”