The 2017 crash in the spring Kansas Speedway that seriously injured Aric Almirola and kept him from competing in seven races that season continues to define his career.
“Breaking my back was obviously not in the plan,” Almirola said in an interview on NASCAR America. “I didn’t anticipate ever being injured in a racecar. Everybody always thinks, ‘that’s not going to happen to me.’ ”
But it did and each time Almirola returns to Kansas – like he will Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC) – he is met with memories of the accident that will not go away. That’s because his crash continues to be part of the highlight reel for this track as one of its most dramatic moments.
As it turns out, his thoughts about the track have become fond ones.
Later in 2017, Almirola finished ninth in the fall Kansas race after finishing fifth the week before at Talladega. He finished ninth again this spring.
“Something that really stuck out to me there is how his perception has changed,” Parker Kligerman said on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America. “Sometimes you have drivers who ascend to the top very quickly and they don’t have, maybe, a respect for what they’re doing and what they’re getting to do week in and week out. And when they’re … forced to watch the sport from another angle and … just observe, a lot of time they come away being faster, better, more appreciative.”
This week, Almirola goes to the track with an even better feeling after winning last week’s race at Talladega.
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.