DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Aric Almirola loves to work on cars. To race them, he says is a bonus.<br />
And to become the first driver of Cuban descent to win in NASCAR's top series, as he did Sunday at Daytona International Speedway for Richard Petty Motorsports, is fulfillment of a dream beyond any expectations.<br />
Almirola, 30, grew up not far from Daytona and raced go-karts in the shadow of the World Center of Racing. He attended the University of Central Florida and was working on his degree in mechanical engineering when he got the chance to participate as a development driver with Joe Gibbs Racing and its diversity partnership with former NFL player Reggie White in 2004.<br />
"Now, here I am a winner in the Sprint Cup Series," he said. "It's pretty amazing. It's just really surreal to be able to make it to this level. I think about this often. I'm one of 43 guys who get to do what I do on Sundays and race at this level and I feel very blessed and lucky to have this opportunity."<br />
Sunday, his prayers for rain were answered as he waited out an hour-long rain delay. When NASCAR made the Coke Zero 400 official after 112 of 160 scheduled laps, Almirola had his first Sprint Cup win.<br />
"In 2012, when I came here, Richard Petty Motorsports was on the rebound," Almirola said. "It had been through some turmoil and came out of that. Like Richard said, he wasn't going to give up on it. I was so grateful that they thought that I could be the guy that could contribute to that and could help get the 43 car back to where it needed to be
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