Ford Performance NASCAR: Talladega Media Availability (Aric Almirola)

Ford PR

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Friday, April 26, 2019

EVENT: GEICO 500 Media Availability


ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang — WHAT WILL WE SEE THIS WEEKEND? TANDEMS? WEIRD COMBINATION OF TANDEMS? NO TANDEMS AT ALL? “I will get back to you. I honestly don’t know. I think there is a lot of speculation about what we will see. I know that they did somewhat of a test at Daytona after the 500 but it was only like three cars. It is hard to tell off of that. I know they have even changed the rules since then with some of the side skirts and the stop in the rear travel an inch shorter and adding an inch of rear spoiler to the car. It will even be different from that. I don’t know really. We had an hour long conversation about that this morning in the hauler about what to expect and what we will see. I think some of the 550 tracks we have been to, California and Vegas, when you lock bumpers it hasn’t been as beneficial as what we have seen in the past. You are only talking about doing that for a straightaway, not for an entire lap. I think that is the unknown, whether or not with those drag ducts in the bottom of the nose, if that is going to allow tandems. What we saw in the past, years and years ago, tandem was pretty easy or relatively easy. The cars were all pretty common, we had common templates and the front bumpers all had a big flat surface area and the rear bumpers had a big flat surface area. There was a lot of area to lock bumpers and push. Now there is so much character in the bumpers that I think it will be pretty treacherous. If it is faster we will find a way to do it but I think it will be a lot more risky than it used to be.”


LAST FALL THE WAY STEWART-HAAS EXECUTED IN THIS RACE. HAVE YOU EVER HAD A RACE THAT WENT ACCORDING TO PLAN THAT WELL? IS THERE A CHANCE YOU GUYS CAN REPLICATE THAT ON SUNDAY? “Well, the first part to executing that was having four really fast race cars by themselves. We qualified 1-2-3-4, so right from the very get-go we were all together and able to get in line together and that basically started our plan. With us not qualifying 1-2-3-4 I don’t think you ever see that plan come to fruition. If you have one or two cars in the top-5 and the other cars in the teens, it is really hard to get all four cars linked up. You end up with so much traffic around you that it doesn’t work. Because we qualified like we did, we were able to go and execute that plan and it worked flawlessly. We pretty much dominated the race. Like I said, the key component to that was having really fast cars compared to the competition and qualifying all four cars in the top-four. We will have to wait and see where we end up in qualifying. I am sure that if we qualifying 1-2-3-4 again that we would certainly look into doing that.”


WHAT DO YOU TALK ABOUT FOR AN HOUR IF YOU DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? “You hypothesize. You just sit there and we talked about what we were going to do for single car runs, what we are going to do for drafting and talked to some of our other Ford teammates. We talked to the crew chiefs amongst Stewart-Haas Racing and just really try to gather as much input and information going into the practice sessions as we can to be prepared. That is the biggest thing. You have conversations to be prepared so that you don’t get caught by surprise. If it looks like tandem is going to work, what do we need to do to be prepared to go and of the four cars, who is going to get together. What two cars are going to tandem together? If we are going to draft in a pack, what is that going to look like? What time do we want to do that? How many single car runs do we want to run before we do that? There is quite a bit to talk about actually. Even setup stuff and how you want your car to be set up and how you want it to drive if you plan on having somebody pushing you on your bumper versus being in a pack and drafting like we have traditionally see will be very different.”



WHAT DIFFERENTIATES THIS PLACE FROM OTHERS? “I think the one thing that differentiates Talladega from every other race track is just the wildness. All the way from the infield to the actual race on Sunday. It is an exciting place and it produces a lot of exciting and dramatic races. It puts on one hell of a show for the fans and the fans typically put on one heck of a show themselves. It is just a very unique place. It is a really cool place. It is out here in the middle of nowhere in Alabama and yet we pack this place time and time again so there is obviously something very special about it.”


HAVE YOU GUYS WORKED AT ALL WITH THE AIR AS FAR AS WIND TUNNEL GOES SO THAT YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW THE FORDS WILL MATCH UP TOGETHER ONCE YOU GET ON THE RACE TRACK? “There hasn’t been a whole lot of wind tunnel testing as far as predicting the draft and tandem and all that. Most of that stuff is done on the CFD study through really smart people and computers. We have exhausted all of our resources on that to prepare and get ready. We have had these cars in the wind tunnel and trying to be prepared and ready but I think a lot of it is just predicting, just like our simulation tools, they are all just tools to predict. Then you get in the real world experience when first practice starts and you find out if your tool you were using to predict is accurate or not. If it is not, you will have some challenges and some changes that you need to make to accommodate and if it was accurate then you go into it with a good plan.”


IF YOU CAN’T FIND A FORD TO DRAFT WITH, WILL YOU JUST FIND WHOEVER IS THE BEST GUY OUT THERE OR DO YOU PUT THE “ONE FORD” FIRST? DO YOU HAVE TO ALIGN YOURSELF WITH THE BEST CAR OR WHO YOU DRAFT BETTER WITH AS OPPOSED TO A TEAMMATE OR A FELLOW BLUE OVAL? “I think what you have seen for the past several years, everybody in the Ford camp has done a really good job of working together and we have kind of put the Blue Oval first and made sure that one of our cars was going to win. Like I said earlier about executing plans, in order to execute plans you have to have fast race cars first and foremost. You aren’t going to take cars that are 25th or 30th place cars in single car speed and come up with a plan to go win. You come up with plans with fast race cars and if you execute those plans then you put yourself in position to win the race. If you look at the stats, coming here I saw something that said the last seven races in a row have been won by a Ford. That is a pretty good stat to have in your corner if you are driving a Ford coming here. I think that alone sets us up for being able to plan on having fast race cars and knowing that the other Fords in our Ford camp are going to have fast race cars. We automatically intend on working together because you know when you go start pushing a Ford or are racing around a Ford that they are going to be fast. When you are drafting with a Penske or Roush car you know they will be fast and will be able to go up front and lead laps. Same with our Stewart-Haas Racing cars. I can’t speak for everybody but for me personally, throughout 99% of the race if I have an opportunity to work with a Ford that is the choice that I will make. When it comes to the end you will do what you feel like you need to do to win. If you don’t feel like you have an opportunity to win, then you want a Ford to win. That is pretty plain and simple.”



WHAT DO YOU EXPECT NEXT WEEK AT DOVER WITH THE NEW AERO PACKAGE? “Really fast. Dover is one of the places I think that we will really, really notice the minimum speed being much faster than what we had with last years rule package. The straightaway speed I don’t think will be much different but because of all the downforce on the cars that we have now with this rules package, I think the minimum speed and the mid-corner speed will be so high. It is going to be incredibly fast. I personally think it will be similar to what I used to experience when I would go there and truck race where qualifying is crazy and you are pretty close to wide open and then in the race there is just not a lot of off-throttle time. It makes it exciting to run and make laps around there by yourself but it presents challenges to race.”

WHAT ABOUT THE TIRES? “I don’t know. I can’t speak to that. I think it could be an issue, there is certainly the potential for that. You are going to be going faster across the middle of the corner and will have more load on the tires because of the downforce and the speed being higher. I think there is potential for that but I believe Goodyear has done a tires test there earlier this year and they had wheel force transducer cars on the track there collecting data. That is in their hands. I am not going to speculate on that. I think that there is potential if they are not prepared for it.”

Greg Engle