Graveyard Ghosts: Aric Almirola’s No. 88 Suave Men Chevrolet

Ron Lemasters | JR Motorsports | 11/5/2018

News Racecar Graveyard

Aric Almirola was minding his business at Phoenix in November 2011 when he was taken out in spectacular fashion at the 1-mile oval,all but eliminating his championship hopes.

Driver: Aric Almirola

Car: No. 88 Suave Men Menards Chevrolet Impala

Track: ISM Raceway (Nov. 12, 2011)

Bio: Aric Almirola has been, at times during his NASCAR career, a recipient of collateral damage from someone else’s miscue on track, and that was the role he played during the penultimate race of the 2011 NASCAR Xfinity Series season at ISM Raceway.

After qualifying on the pole, Almirola led the first 66 laps before giving way to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The young Florida driver kept the No. 88 Suave Men Chevrolet from JR Motorsports in the top five most of the day, and was running in a pack with Jason Leffler and Elliott Sadler when it all went up in smoke.

Coming off Turn 2, Almirola was on the outside with Leffler underneath as Sadler came up from behind. Sadler cut to the apron off Turn 2 to give Leffler room and popped back up two lengths clear of the two-car battle between Leffler and Almirola just before the braking zone.

Sadler applied the binders, but Leffler was a touch later to the pedal and sent Sadler’s car spinning...straight up the track and across Almirola’s nose. The contact damaged the nose of the No. 88 and the wall contact that followed added a bunch more. And the hits just kept coming, too. More contact occurred on the way down the track, and Jeremy Clements was late getting slowed down and piled into Sadler’s car, bouncing off and just missing Almirola. Morgan Shepherd clipped Leffler on the way into Turn 3 and bounced off to strike Almirola’s car, adding insult to injury.

The result was a 25th-place finish for Almirola that day, Leffler was 26th and Sadler was 28th. It was costly for the current JRM driver too, as he trailed Stenhouse Jr. by just 17 points entering the race but left for Homestead down by 41. Stenhouse ended up winning the championship a week later by 45 points.

The Suave Men machine made its way to the Racecar Graveyard soon after, and sits above the creek that cuts through the woods next to several sisters from that era.