The common theme among all 16 NASCAR playoff drivers this week about who the top sleeper for this years championship would be was simple – Aric Almirola. The Stewart-Hass Racing driver is having a career year. Almirola, has a season high five top five finishes in his No. 10 Ford this season. He’s already scored 14 top 10 finishes in 26 tries. His career high is 17 in 2018 in 10 more races.
So, as the postseason starts Sunday at the Darlington (SC) Raceway, Almirola looks the part as the guy flying the most under the radar.
“I’m good if they do,” Almirola says of his peers tabbing him as the top sleeper. “It makes no difference to me what anybody else thinks, and that’s an attitude I’ve had for a long time.
“I’m the type of guy that just really puts my head down and goes to work with my race team, and that’s all I really care about if is working with (crew chief Mike) Bugarewicz and the guys on my team. What anybody else thinks, I really don’t care because only I and my race team really know what we’re capable of and areas where we need to improve and areas where we’re doing a good job.
“I am excited about the playoffs. I do feel like we have a lot of potential. We’ve run really well. We’ve made some mistakes along the way that we certainly have to clean up going into the playoffs to be a contender, but I do feel like our speed and the way that we’ve been running, the capability is certainly there.”
Almirola got a fresh batch of confidence this week when he was retained to return to the team for the 2021 season.
“So far, I‘ve been able to have some success. I still want more,” Almirola said. “I still have a burning desire to win more races, lead more laps and ultimately win a championship, but, so far, we‘ve been successful.”