Since Kyle Larson claimed his first-career NASCAR national-level win on Sunday when the won the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, he has been touted as the first driver in NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity program to win a national-level event. Even NASCAR, itself, is making such a claim.
First of all, I don’t wan’t to make light of Larson’s accomplishment. I do acknowledge that it’s quite impressive. The win came in only his fifth start in the Truck Series and his 11th, overall, in NASCAR national-level competition. That’s very impressive.
But if we say he’s the first Drive 4 Diversity graduate to claim a national win in NASCAR, aren’t we forgetting someone? Remember, Aric Almirola was one of the first NASCAR Drive 4 Diversity drivers back in 2004. Through the program, Almirola signed a development deal with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Larson was the first Drive 4 Diversity alumnus to win a major NASCAR title, taking the K&N Pro Series East championship in 2012. But the first to win a national-level race? I don’t think so.
That honor actually belongs to Almirola, but, apparently, some people, NASCAR included, have forgotten that. Amirola claimed his first official NASCAR national level win in the Nationwide Series in 2007. Of course, if you remember, Denny Hamlin actually drove to the win in that race, but Almirola was credited with the win because he started the race in the winning car.
But even if you don’t count that, Almirola should still be credited with being the first Drive 4 Diversity graduate to claim a NASCAR national win. He did win two Camping World Truck Series races in 2010. That was way before Larson’s win a couple of days ago.
Again, Larson’s accomplishments are very impressive and, by all means, should be celebrated. But there seems to be one driver being forgotten when Larson is proclaimed the first national winner from NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity program. Don’t forget Aric Almirola
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (AutoRcngDaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner.