This weekend’s NASCAR race marks the sixth in the 2022 Cup Series season, and after a flight in the brand new Atlanta Motor Speedway, the drivers face yet another challenge. The NASCAR EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix at COTA will be the first road race of the season for Cup Series drivers like Aric Almirola.
That said, the No. 10 driver isn’t nervous in the slightest. On the contrary, Aric Almirola believes the 2022 Next-Gen cars were built for road course-style racing. “This car is absolutely designed more for a road-course race type situation,” said Almirola.
Going to be a wild race today… y’all won’t want to miss it. 🤟 pic.twitter.com/Gvb6VKSupx— Aric Almirola (@Aric_Almirola) March 20, 2022
“Our cars used to be offset,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver continued. “And they were more designed to go just left-hand only, so it was more of a big deal to swap over to go road racing. Now, these cars are more symmetrical. Because of that, it is more specifically designed to go left and right, which suits it very well for road racing. The car is very capable – it handles well, it brakes very well.”
“It’s got much bigger brakes than what we used to have on the old car, so it stops way better and the brake zones are way more compressed. It is a little bit more thrilling to drive on the road courses.”
NASCAR Driver Aric Almirola Talks Preparing for Road Course at COTA
Along with the atypical race style, this weekend’s contest poses a secondary challenge in that NASCAR drivers will only have 30 minutes of practice ahead of qualifying sessions. Again, however, Aric Almirola isn’t too concerned. Instead, Almirola’s focusing on the positive. He has an at-home simulator that allows him as many virtual practice runs as his heart desires.
“I’m going to spend about four hours this week sitting in the simulator, logging laps at COTA to get as much practice as possible. That’s really our only chance to practice,” Almirola said. “So I’m going to put full focus on it this week and hope it pays off.”
Fellow Stewart-Haas driver Kevin Harvick has a similar approach to that of his teammate. In fact, he plans to log so many practice hour with his simulator that he has the track memorized by Sunday.
“There’s just a lot more time that goes into a road-race week,” he said. “You have to have everything memorized before you get there. The first few laps are valuable because you’re still going to be learning the real-life tolerances of the grip level.”
“And you’re going to have to blend that into also trying to do it in a short amount of time and get something out of those practices to give some feedback about the cars. It’s a different preparation week for the road courses than it is anything else.”