Aric Almirola is an American stock car racing driver, who debuted in NASCAR in 2005. Since then, he participated in more than 400 races in all three national series, winning five times. He has one victory in the Sprint Cup Series (2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona), two wins in the Busch/Xfinity Series and two wins in the Truck Series. He was nicknamed The Cuban Missile due to his Cuban origin.
Aric Almirola was born on March 14, 1984, in Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The eight-year-old Aric started racing with go-karts. In the next couple of years he collected many wins, both local and state titles, so he progressed to the national level in 1998. In his debut at Grand National event at Daytona, he won the pole. In his debut season, he finished fourth in the championship.
At the age 16, Aric entered the competition of the open-wheel modified cars, earning Rookie of the Year honors both in Florida Modified division and Southern Automobile Racing Association. The next competition was the Florida's super late model series.
The milestone year for young Aric was 2003 when he became the part of the Joe Gibbs Racing/Reggie White Driver Diversity Program. Step by step, over the late models and ARCA Series, he debuted in the NASCAR on July 23, 2005, in the Truck Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park. He was driving the #47 Chevrolet for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and he crashed after 160 laps. He participated in three more races and scored two Top 10 finishes.
In 2006, Aric spent the year driving full Truck Series season in the #75 Chevy for Spears Motorsports and part-time schedule in the Busch Series in the Joe Gibbs Racing's #19 Chevrolet. With three Top 10 finishes, he was 18th in the points of the Truck Series. His best result in the Busch Series was 11th place at Dover.
In 2007, Almirola reached the Victory Lane for the first time, winning the AT&T 250 race of the Busch Series at Milwaukee Mile, driving the #20 JGR Chevrolet, which he was sharing with Denny Hamlin. Almirola participated in 18 Busch Series races, adding five more Top 10 results to his account.
Good results opened the door of the premium NASCAR series. He had a Nextel Cup Series debut in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, driving and crashing the #80 Joe Gibbs Racing's Chevrolet. The proper debut followed in August at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Aric was driving US Army-sponsored #01 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. He stayed in that car in four more races, and he finished in 26th place at Phoenix.
For 2008 season, Almirola signed a part-time deal with Dale Earnhardt Inc., and shared the car with a legend Mark Martin. Almirola drove the #8 Chevrolet in twelve races, finishing best in the 8th place at Bristol. The cooperation with the team was continued in 2009 and Aric had seven starts with #8 car at the beginning of the season.
For the rest of the 2009 season, he was combining all three national series, but mostly he was driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series. In 16 races with two BBW cars, Aric had ten Top 10 finishes, so he decided to return to the Truck Series for the full season in 2010.
It was his most successful season so far, as he scored two wins and finished as the runner-up in the final standings, behind Todd Bodine. Aric was victorious in the #51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota at Dover and Michigan, scoring 21 Top 10 finishes in 25 races.
During 2010, Almirola also participated in nine races of the Sprint Cup Series (for Phoenix Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports) and eight races of the Nationwide Series (for JR Motorsports). He scored the fourth place in the Sprint Cup season's finale at Homestead-Miami, driving the #9 RPM Ford.
In 2011, Almirola again switched the competition and competed full season in the Nationwide Series, driving the #88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. In 34 races he was 18 times among top 10 finishers, taking fourth place in the standings at the end of the season.
An another milestone year for Aric was 2012 when he joined Richard Petty Motorsports as a full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series. Almirola got the legendary #43 number, which Richard Petty had for most of his glorious career.
Of course, Almirola was far from Petty's results. In five seasons with #43 Ford, Almirola managed to score twenty-three Top 10 finishes and seven Top 5 finishes, including one victory. Aric brought the #43 into the Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway, winning the Coke Zero 400 in July 2014. The race was red-flagged due to rain after 112 of scheduled 160 laps, so Aric Almirola scored his career-first Cup victory.
His excellent results during the season earned him his first Chase for the Sprint Cup. At the end of the season, he was 16th in the points, which was his career-best result. For his success, he earned a spot in the Top 25 Latino Athletes in the USA.
Since 2014, Almirola is participating in the Nationwide (Xfinity) Series for the Biagi-DenBeste Racing, driving the #98 Ford. On July 1, 2016, at Daytona International Speedway, he won the Subway Firecracker 250, scoring his fifth NASCAR victory in a career.
In the 2016 SprintCup Series season, Aric scored 12th place in the season-opening Daytona 500, which was his best result in the NASCAR's biggest race. A year later, he was even better, finishing in the fourth place at 2017 Daytona 500.