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Tampa driver has NASCAR fans cheering ‘VamosTampa Bay!’

Big Race - Daytona

Arik Almirola credits his success to his grandparents that came to Florida in the 1960s during the freedom flights. As he sees more and more success, fans are cheering loudly Vamos Tampa Bay!

The competitive sport of racing is all about doing what it takes to be the first to see that checkered flag. The number 10 car is one of those always near the top wanting to be number one.

“There are only 40 drivers that get to call themselves NASCAR Cups Series drivers and I happen to be one of them,” says Almirola gratefully.

Aric Almirola, a Hillsborough High School grad, remembers growing up like most kids.

“Playing baseball over in North Tampa and going to school here and just being a normal kid,” says Almirola.

To get to some of the most famous speedways in racing though, it does take sacrifice.

“When I was growing up, it was like, you do what? We’re going to the high school football game on Friday night. Well, I have to go racing this weekend,” says Almirola.

Coming back to Tampa means hitting up some of his favorite Cuban restaurants like the West Tampa Sandwich Shop and Arco Iris.

“I love coming back here and getting my fill of Cuban food, but nothing, and I do mean nothing, compares to Abuela’s picadillo.” Says Almirola. “She’s like, ay papo! You’re so skinny! Flaco! Sit down I need to feed you!”

He calls NASCAR an All-American sport, but like America, it continues to change and so do NASCAR fans.

“I think you see myself and Daniel Suarez from Mexico, we’re gaining a lot of interest from the Latino fans, and it’s fun! It’s fun to go to the race track and see those fans and see that they’re pulling for you and rooting for you and supporting you.”

Aric almost won the Daytona 500 last year, and he will have another chance in a couple of weeks. We’ll be rooting for the “Cuban Missile.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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