DARLINGTON, S.C. – Of all the throwback looks this weekend at Darlington Raceway, Aric Almirola’s Fu Manchu mustache is one of the more popular sights.
“I’ve got about five days on this,” Almirola said. “I wasn’t fully committed. I shaved last week on vacation. I went to dinner with my wife and got cleaned up and after that I just kind of let it go crazy. I thought it would be cool to grow this. I got a late start. I would like for it to be a little bit fuller. This is all I’ve got for now.”
What did team owner Richard Petty, who once had such a look, think of Almirola’s mustache?
“He actually liked it,” Almirola said. “He said he won the Daytona 500 with a mustache that looked just like this. We’ll see if we can’t win the Southern 500.”
A win would get Almirola in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He enters Sunday night’s race – which will be shown by NBC – 35 points behind Clint Bowyer for the final transfer spot to the Chase. Two races remain until the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set.
Almiriola, though, says he still considers it realistic that he can make the Chase via points.
“Until somebody tells us we’re not, I feel like we have a shot,” said Almirola 16th in the points standings. “I’ve been really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. Last year we were 25th or 26th in the points and we made the Chase because we won at Daytona. This year, I feel like if we make the Chase we’ve certainly earned it. We’ve run really consistent this year.
“We haven’t had the speed that we want and that’s just being real. Our cars haven’t been as fast as we had hoped. We’ve really executed this year. When we’ve had bad days, we’ve turned them into OK days. When we’ve had OK days, we’ve turned them into good days. I think overall this has been one of our best seasons as far as executing and running solid races.
“I think if we do that two more times and some of the other guys around us have bad luck, I think it’s certainly possible (to make the Chase).”