By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Joe Gibbs/Reggie White Diversity Drivers Make History
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla
Chris Bristol & Aric Almirola
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chris Bristol and Aric Almirola, drivers in the Joe Gibbs/Reggie White Driver Development Program, made history Saturday as each won their respective races in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.
Bristol drove his No. 92 MBNA Chevrolet to victory at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Almirola piloted his No. 92 Home Depot Chevrolet to victory at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
Bristol started fifth in Hickory’s 50-lap Late Model race and ended the race in first, becoming the first African-American driver to win in Hickory’s 55-year history. The win also placed the 27-year-old Bristol in a three-way tie for first in the track’s championship point standings.
Almirola started sixth in the Motor Mile’s 150-lap Late Model feature and finished first. It was the 20-year-old’s first win of the 2005 season and his second top-three finish at Motor Mile. The Hispanic driver from Tampa, Fla., finished third in the March 19 Doughton Racing Products 300.
Last year, Almirola competed at the .4-mile Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., recording two wins, six top-fives and 15 top-10s. Bristol raced at the .455-mile Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., earning a win, three poles, nine top-fives and 19 top-10s en route to rookie of the year honors.
In 2005, Almirola moved from being a regular Late Model driver at Ace Speedway to campaign his Home Depot Chevrolet at big Late Model races throughout the Southeast. Bristol, meanwhile, moved to the .363-mile Hickory oval to compete regularly in that track’s Late Model program.
Joe Gibbs Racing and the late Reggie White formed the driver development program to identify and assist minorities who have the desire to get into auto racing.
Bristol and Almirola are both in their second year with the program. Both drivers are carrying the number 92 in tribute to White. The #92 is the number White wore throughout his football career, playing at the University of Tennessee before becoming a Hall of Fame defensive end in the National Football League.