Event: Powershares QQQ 300 (Round 1 of 33)
Date: Feb. 17, 2018
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
Layout: 2.5-mile oval
Aric Almirola Notes of Interest
- The Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway is the first of two XFINITY Series races Aric Almirola will be participating in this season. He’ll also pilot the No. 98 Ford Mustang at the upcoming July race at Daytona.
- Almirola has nine XFINITY Series starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway and has completed 96.9 percent of all possible laps. He led the most important lap, the final one, in July 2016 to earn his second career win in the series.
- Most recently, the Tampa native led 13 laps and visited victory lane at the only other restrictor-plate track on the circuit, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, in May 2017 with a .142-second margin of victory.
- The Talladega win was one of five XFINITY Series races Almirola contested in 2017.
- In his first XFINITY Series start in February 2007 at Daytona, the 33-year-old captured the pole position with a speed of 183.741 mph.
- NASCAR XFINITY Series team Biagi-DenBeste joined forces with Stewart-Haas Racing during the offseason. The team is now formally recognized as Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste (SHR). Biagi-DenBeste’s track record at restrictor-plate races includes two superspeedway wins – 2016 at Daytona and 2017 at Talladega – with Almirola behind the wheel for both victories.
- Cole Custer, who won the final XFINITY Series race of the 2017 season, is Almirola’s teammate this weekend at Daytona. Custer pilots the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang.
- Smithfield will adorn the No. 98 Ford Mustang for this weekend’s 120-lap event. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.
- William and Lori DenBeste are the founders of DenBeste Water Solutions. The company designs, sources and leases specialty storage tanks and bins in various sizes and models for use in the oil, gas, environmental, construction and water management industries.
- The No. 98 Smithfield DenBeste Water Solutions Ford Mustang is powered by a Roush Yates Engines FR9 Carb V8 engine. In 2017, Roush Yates won three of the four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series restrictor-plate races and one XFINITY restrictor-plate race.
Aric Almirola, Driver Q&A
Can you talk about the enjoyment you get out of racing in the XFINITY Series?
“The XFINITY Series is one of the highest levels in any form of stock car auto racing. For me, to have the accomplishment of winning at both Daytona and Talladega in the XFINITY Series has been a huge feather in my cap for my career and a big boost of confidence to make me appreciate where I’ve come from and also that I have opportunities that lie ahead of me, and that I can go out and be successful. The XFINITY Series is such an awesome series that I get to race in a few times a year. I hope I get to add a few more XFINITY Series checkered flags to my collection this year.”
Your first XFINITY Series win was the first time you were able to have your family in victory lane with you. How cool was it to have that experience with them?
“To see the smile on my kid’s face and the tears in my wife’s eyes, that was special. To have them there when I won my first XFINITY race, that was so cool. To see the reaction on my kids’ faces when they got Gatorade sprayed all over them and they got soaking wet – they were confused and startled but, at the same time, happy and elated. It was really cool.”
How do you feel about going into Daytona?
“Restrictor-plate races have been really good for me over the last few years, not only in the XFINITY Series, but in the Cup Series, too. The Roush Yates engine under the hood of the Ford Mustang has been very strong and is a big part of the success I’ve had. I also still get the opportunity to work with the Biagi and DenBeste families, so there’s a lot of familiarity this year along with everything that is new. Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste has been working really hard over the offseason to prepare for Daytona and it’s up to me to do my job behind the wheel.”
Richard Boswell, Crew Chief Q&A
What are you looking forward to the most about Daytona?
“I’m looking forward to working with Aric and having a good showing for Smithfield and DenBeste Water Solutions. All the guys at Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste have worked their guts out all winter to give us a shot in Daytona. Aric is a great speedway racer and we are hopeful for a great start to the season.”