After a seemingly endless four-week break, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series gets back into action Sunday, and no one is happier about that than Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota Tundra.
Almirola, who trails Todd Bodine by just 55 points in the NCWTS standings, will be one of the favorites when the truckers roll into Iowa Speedway for the Lucas Oil 200. The race will be televised live on SPEED, starting with the “NCWTS Setup” at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
“I'm ready to go back racing after our four-week break,” said Almirola. “I'm really ready. We went and tested earlier this week at a short track in Georgia and had a great test there. It's fun to go test because you get to learn stuff, but it's so much more fun to race and go out and be competitive. You know, the competitor inside you wants to race. So I'm looking forward to going to Iowa, getting back in the truck and going racing.”
Last year, Almirola finished second on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway oval, and this year he’ll be hunting for victory lane in his Graceway Pharmaceuticals/Zyclara-sponsored Toyota.
So far, 2010 has been a breakout year for Almirola. In nine starts this season, he’s already won twice, at Dover and Michigan, the latter coming in the most recent race in the series. He’s also finished in the top five three times and in the top 10 seven times. Heady stuff for the talented youngster.
“We've been on a roll here lately,” Almirola said of his BBM team. “It would be awesome to leave Iowa with another trophy this year. We were competitive there last year. We ran second, and I felt like we had a good truck, but we weren't good enough to win. We were just good enough to run second.”
That well could change on Sunday. Almirola has an excellent feel for the Iowa track, and he’ll head back to Iowa Speedway looking to secure a victory this time around.
“We've done some testing earlier this year, and I feel like we've learned a lot throughout the beginning of the season to now,” he said. “We've taking everything we've learned and put into great use. That is something all of us can take pride in and also incorporate into a great run at Iowa. I feel like we have a really good shot at running really well, so I'm looking forward to it.”
And that could translate into a series-high third race win this weekend for Almirola.
“I feel really confident going back there, and if everything plays out right, you never know what could happen,” he said.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEEDtv.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.