Leaving Richard Petty Motorsports and the legendary number 43 car has Aric Almirola rebooting his career with Stewart-Haas Racing. He had been with RPM since 2010, but only has one win in 244 Cup starts in his career. His new ride, the number 10 Ford, doesn't have the same history as his old one, but the move to a larger team brings it's own unique challenges.
Not that the move has changed Almirola's approach. "When I get in the car, the only thing I see is the windshield and 39 other drivers that I've beaten or want to beat," Almirola said via NBC Sports. "I've driven the sport's most iconic car for the last six years, so if you want to talk about it from that aspect, there's been more pressure driving that Petty blue 43 car than I think I'll ever have driving a black and white 10 car."
Even if the pressure isn't greater, Almirola knows he is starting over. "We run a long schedule, so I certainly took some time to myself," Almirola said about his transition over the offseason. "But I have spent a lot of time at the shop. Probably more time at the race car shop this offseason than I've ever spent. I've basically started from scratch, right? Started from zero, with all new seats, pouring inserts in seats and just everything. Gauges, dash and just everything that you can think of that a driver looks at or is a part of inside the race car, I've started from ground zero."
Starting over at 33 may not sound like an ideal situation, but Almirola is excited to be a part of a team he has admired from the outside for so long.
"You see all their trophies in their trophy case and their championship trophies, it's very evident why," He said. "Just the attention to detail, the amount of people pulling in the same direction - it's incredible to see first-hand, so knowing I've had to race against that the last six years has been disheartening, but I'm glad I get to be a part of it finally."