Almirola: "I would return the favor" to Austin Dillon for 500 win

Stewart-Haas Racing's Aric Almirola says he would "return the favor" if he was to again fight Austin Dillon for victory in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500.

Almirola: "I would return the favor" to Austin Dillon for 500 win
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro leads as Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion wrecks
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion and Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota lead
Race winner Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Smithfield Bacon for Life
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Smithfield
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Smithfield

Dillon took Chevrolet and Richard Childress Racing's only win of 2018 in last year's Daytona 500 after a last-lap clash with Almirola in which the SHR driver was tipped into a race-ending spin by his rival. 

Almirola came out in support of Dillon immediately after the race, saying: "He's not driving too aggressively, he's trying to win the Daytona 500 just like I was."

But ahead of this year's Daytona 500, Almirola said he would retaliate given the "same opportunity" in the 2019 race.

“I felt so confident. I knew that if I hit all of my gears perfectly, I would have a shot at it and I did," Almirola said of last year's race. 

"I looked in my mirror and saw everyone racing side-by-side and figured that I was in control of the race and, if I made the right move, I was going to be the winner of the Daytona 500. 

Half a lap away from history

"About halfway down the back straightaway, they [Dillon and Denny Hamlin] were coming with a run and I pulled over to block it. 

"In your head, you know it’s the Daytona 500 and you’re a mile-and-a-half away from winning, so you’re going to do everything you know to try and win that race. 

"I pulled over to block and put a pretty aggressive block on the #3 [Dillon]. I knew that if I blocked high, he was going to go low. 

"As soon as I blocked high I knew I was going to have to immediately block low. When I blocked low, he turned against my back bumper and into the outside wall. 

"I wrecked a mile away from winning the Daytona 500. 

"I don’t necessarily fault him for what he did but, given the same opportunity this year, you can bet your bottom dollar I would return the favor. 

"You’re going to do whatever it takes.”

Almirola and his fellow Ford drivers will give the new-for-2019 Mustang its Cup series debut at Daytona in the first NASCAR match-up between the Mustang and the Camaro.

Read Also:

shares
comments
Why NASCAR can't win its war on cheating overnight

Previous article

Why NASCAR can't win its war on cheating overnight

Next article

Joey Logano leads Daytona Clash practice, four cars wreck

Joey Logano leads Daytona Clash practice, four cars wreck
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020