When Aric Almirola moved to Charlotte in his late teens to run in Joe Gibbs Racing’s developmental program, Tony Stewart was in his fifth season driving for the famed owner. The two formed an early friendship.
Fifteen years later, Almirola joined Stewart-Haas Racing and is having one of the best seasons of his career.
“Tony kind of took me under his wing and took an interest in me and almost treated me like a nephew,” Almirola told Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Steve Letarte in Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America.
First and foremost, Almirola was a fan when he started racing for JGR. In 2003, the Cuban-American driver participated in the combine program for Joe Gibbs Racing’s diversity program. Part of his agreement with the team was that he could spend time in the race shop and attend Cup races, which brought him into contact with Stewart.
“I built a relationship with (Stewart),” Almirola said. “It was friendly. He took me under his wing, let me stay on his couch in his motorhome when I started racing Trucks on weekends when we’d race Trucks on Friday and I wanted to stay all the way through Sunday and hang out and watch and be a part of it. … We’ve been friends ever since.”
Stewart left JGR in 2009 when he bought a stake in a race team owned by Gene Haas. At the time, Almirola had moved on and was racing select events in the Cup series for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, but the two never lost contact and that resulted in his current ride in the No. 10.
Man I’m pumped. Finished 7th in the feature which puts us in a B-main on Saturday. The most complete night I felt like I’ve ever put together. @csishocks@JoeySaldana and @BLzerotwo gave me a bad ass racecar!!
StarCom Racing has named Wayne Carroll as crew chief for driver Landon Cassill in the 2019 Cup season, NBC Sports has confirmed.
Carroll served as crew chief for 12 Cup races last season on StarCom Racing’s No. 99 car, working with several drivers including Derrike Cope, Gray Gaulding, Kyle Weatherman and three races with Cassill.
After leasing a charter from Richard Childress Racing for the No. 00 last season, StarCom purchased the charter for the same car for this season. The No. 00 and 99 will also have ECR motors under the hood for both Cassill and teammate Derrike Cope.
Also, Tony Furr, who served as crew chief for both Cassill and Jeffrey Earnhardt last season with StarCom, has accepted a similar position with Mullins Racing in the ARCA Racing Series, the team announced Tuesday.
Furr will serve as crew chief for the No. 3 Mullins Racing Ford driven by team owner and 2018 Daytona ARCA runner-up Willie Mullins in the ARCA Racing Series season-opening Lucas Oil 200 on Feb. 9 at Daytona International Speedway.
Furr has spent much of his career in the Cup Series, working with numerous stars including Bill Elliott, Joe Nemechek, John Andretti, Ward Burton, Jerry Nadeau and others.
Furr has two Cup Series wins as a crew chief, one with Andretti in the summer race at Daytona in 1997 and one with Nadeau at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2000.
A public memorial service for J.D. Gibbs will be held at 11:30 a.m. ET Jan. 25 at Davidson College’s John M. Belk Arena in Davidson, North Carolina. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.
Gibbs, the eldest son of car owner Joe Gibbs, died Jan. 11 after a battle with a degenerative neurological disease. J.D. Gibbs was 49.
On a website honoring Gibbs’ legacy, it states that in lieu of flowers, the Gibbs family requests donations to the J.D. Gibbs Legacy Fund. The fund has been established to honor Gibbs and his passion for the Young Life Ministry, which he served as a member of the National Board.
The J.D. Gibbs Legacy Fund has two specific objectives that reflect J.D.’s passion for outreach:
To ensure “every kid” in the greater Charlotte region can be reached with the gospel, the Fund will provide the support necessary to reach adolescents from all socioeconomic backgrounds, those with special needs, and teen moms.
Young Life’s Windy Gap Camp in the mountains of N.C. has been a favorite of J.D.’s and his family for many years. Windy Gap is located just 15 miles north of Asheville, N.C. and the Fund will be used to support the construction of a new dining hall as well as additional facility improvements.