Aric Almirola is headed into the 2018 season with a lot of upside. He’s a talented driver who’ll be finding himself in the most competitive situation of his career. I fully expect him to make the most of this opportunity and have his best season to date. His new ride is the Stewart-Haas Racing #10. This is Danica Patrick’s old car, but I think he’ll get a lot more out of the equipment. In terms of fantasy production in 2018 I think Aric Almirola will likely be about “Clint Bowyer 2017 good,” but be slightly less competitive.
Strengths – Look for Aric Almirola to be at his best at intermediate tracks, shorter-flat tracks, short tracks and plate tracks.
Weaknesses – Almirola has never been that good at big flat tracks or road courses.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – High
In 2018 I expect to see Aric Almirola have a solid season at intermediate tracks. He’s proven to be a respectable performer in lesser equipment, and in his more competitive situation I think good things are bound to happen. On a weekly basis this upcoming season I expect to see Almirola be a low-double digit to mid-teens performer who’ll come home with his fair share of top tens.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
Aric Almirola should be considered a dark horse driver at flat tracks in 2018. He’s proven to be a solid sleeper at shorter flat tracks, but his track record at the bigger flat tracks leaves a lot to be desired.
At the shorter flat tracks (Phoenix, New Hampshire and Richmond) this upcoming season I really think he’ll be a low-double digits driver who’ll compete for top tens. He has a smooth patient driving style which has proven to be very conducive for success at these venues. He’s capable of sneaking in a top ten at any of the three shorter flat tracks.
Almirola has never really had success at the bigger flat tracks. At Indy his average finish is 22.2, and at Pocono his average finish is 27.5. Last summer at Indy which turned into a super high-attrition race he had his best ever result at a bigger flat track and finished 13th. All of his other results at bigger flat tracks are all 17th or worse. In 2018 he’ll be in more competitive situation so hopefully he’ll perform better at these venues. “Performance Wise” at the bigger flat tracks I would give him a baseline fantasy value as being a mid-teens driver and then hope for the best.
Short Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
Aric Almirola is a pretty solid driver at short tracks. I’m giving him a “Medium-High” fantasy value on this track type, but he’s likely being underrated.
In the past in lesser equipment he was a dark horse driver on this track type. I think this upcoming season he might be able to sneak in a top ten at any of the three short tracks. Heading into the weekend on this track type I would look for him to be a low-double digit to mid-teens driver who has a great chance to finish in the top ten.
At Martinsville in the past he’s had some great performances. In 4 of the last 5 races there he’s finished between 15th to 18th. Between 2012 and 2015 when he was at his best driving for RPM he had a 13.6 average finish.
At Bristol he’ll be flying below the radar and as long as he avoids problems he should be good. Since fall 2013 minus the three races he’s wrecked his average finish is 14.0.
At Richmond he’s had some really solid performances in the past. Since 2013 he’s finished in the top 20 every race and has a 15.0 average finish.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – High
Last year at plate tracks Aric Almirola was in 3 races and walked away with 3 top fives. His three top fives are notable because no other driver had three top fives in 2018. At plate tracks he’s certainly not a flashy name, but he’s more than proven that he’s an effective fantasy option.
At Talladega, Almirola currently has three straight top tens. Since 2015 minus a spring 2016 wreck he has a 9.6 average finish.
Daytona is the site of Almirola’s one career victory. Last year he finished 4th in the Daytona 500, but missed the summer race. Since his summer 2014 victory minus a summer 2015 wreck he’s had a result in the top 15 every race and has a 9.4 average finish.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Medium
I’m not a big fan of picking Aric Almirola at road courses, and you probably shouldn’t be either. He hasn’t performed well at the two currently on the circuit, when you add in a third to the mix in 2018 it’s hard to see any good coming from it.
In 2018 at road courses I would set his base-line fantasy value on this track type as being a high-teens to low-twenties driver. Over his 13 combined starts on this track type he’s only had 1 top 15 result.
At Sonoma in 2015 he had his best result on this track type and finished 14th. All five of his other Sonoma results are between 20th and 28th. Last year he missed the race due to injury.
At Watkins Glen since he’s been a full-time driver (2012) minus a 2013 accident he has a 20.0 average finish. Last year Almirola finished 21st.