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Title quest won't stop Aric Almirola from helping Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick will team with Aric Almirola at  JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season.
Danica Patrick will team with Aric Almirola at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season.

By Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Being one of the favorites to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series title won't prevent Aric Almirola from helping get JR Motorsports teammate Danica Patrick up to speed.

Almirola runs full time in JRM's No. 88 Chevrolet. Patrick is a part-timer, juggling a partial Nationwide schedule with full-time competition in the IndyCar Series. Patrick ran 13 Nationwide races in her debut season last year, posting a top finish of 19th at Homestead in her final start.

"Even as new to it as I am, I have more experience than she does," Almirola told Sporting News. "So I feel like I play a little bit of a role as a helper. I try to help her as much as I possibly can. I tell her anything that I know. I tell her every characteristic that I know about the race track."

Almirola, 26, has started 148 races in NASCAR's top three series, including 39 Nationwide starts. He was credited with a Nationwide win at Milwaukee in 2007 but did not drive the car to victory. Almirola led the first 43 laps but-at sponsor Rockwell's request-was replaced by Denny Hamlin soon after, and Hamlin completed the race. Almirola finished second in the Camping World Truck Series last year, winning two races.

His seat time in NASCAR far exceeds Patrick's, and he is more than willing to share his knowledge.

"I try to help her and explain to her what the racetrack's going to do later, what it's going to do during the race. It's just experience," he said. "She lacks experience more than anything else. She doesn't lack any drive or determination. She doesn't lack talent-she lacks experience. So, for me, I just try to be the best teammate I can be."