“Between the tire that Goodyear is bringing to Martinsville and the new aerodynamics package, the cars seem to be driving quite a bit differently than in the past. We struggled a bit adapting to those changes at the last Martinsville and didn’t run how we normally do there. We’ve been running in the Top 15 for the last four years, but we didn’t run that well last time, and then we ended up having an engine issue. But, I think that we’ve gotten a better handle on the package here recently, and we’ve been showing improvement these past few weeks, especially at short tracks.
“This is definitely great momentum for our race team,” said Almirola. “It’s been a challenging year for us, but we’re working hard to get back to scoring consistent Top-10 and Top-15 finishes. I knew going into the race today that my No. 43 Smithfield Ford ran best in the top and middle lanes, but it was a matter of making sure I was in whichever lane was moving fastest at the time.
“Talladega is very stressful, but we get used to it. It’s part of the sport. We go there twice a year, and we know what to expect when we get there. We also go to Daytona twice, but they’re very different tracks. The cars don’t need to handle as well at Talladega; handling really comes into play at Daytona. But, at Talladega, it’s all about having a really fast car and drafting well. The whole weekend leading up to the race is actually pretty relaxed and stress free compared to most weekends.
“I think that Kansas is starting to get back to what it used to be before the repave. Now when we show up, cars are moving all over the track. When they first repaved Kansas, the grove was right there on the bottom, on the white line. It was one groove but still very fast. Now with the weathering of the track and the tires that Goodyear has been bringing, we’ve been moving around a lot.
“Man, what a crazy day in Charlotte,” said Almirola. “We had a lot of work to do before the race to get our No. 43 Smithfield Ford handling how we needed it to. For most of the race, the car was just as loose as it could be and difficult to drive. We found ourselves a couple of laps down because of it. But, my team never gave up and got us back on the lead lap.