“It was a tough day for us out there,” said Almirola. “Drew (Blickensderfer) and the team worked hard, but we just couldn’t get it handling how we needed it. Our No. 43 Smithfield Ford would start the run really tight through the corners and then would transition into loose on entry and exit. We made a lot of changes throughout the day, but the car didn’t respond with better handling.
“Chicagoland Speedway promotes a lot of great racing all over the racetrack. It’s a fun track to race at, and I’m excited to go back there. We’re not in The Chase, but we still have a really great opportunity to go there and try to win the race. Hopefully, we’ll be able to run with the drivers racing in The Chase and mix up the field a bit. We’ve run really well there in the past.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team tonight,” said Almirola. “It’s really easy to give up when you’re three laps down. But, my team rallied and focused on Trent’s strategy to keep us in this race. Our No. 43 Smithfield Ford didn’t take off how we needed it to, so all of those short runs hurt us there at the end. It all came together though, and we made big moves to bring home a 17th-place finish.
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team head to Richmond International Raceway with one more opportunity to make it into The Chase. Inside of the Top 30 in the Championship Point Standings, Almirola is eligible to compete in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship but must win to move on. Richmond is the last opportunity to win a race before the sport’s playoffs begin.
“This definitely wasn’t how we pictured our night ending,” said Almirola. “We’ve had a great time this weekend honoring the 1979 season, and I really wanted to get STP a solid finish with such an awesome car. But, we had a Top-20 finish within reach there at the end. I thought I’d be given more room trying to make that pass, but that’s just racing sometimes.