“Our short-track program has been much better here recently. Three or four years ago, our mile-and-a-half program was definitely our strongest program and short tracks were a struggle. But, over the past few years, we’ve been developing our program, and it’s become more respectable.
“This race went better than a lot of other intermediate-track races this year,” said Almirola. “We’ve been working really hard to improve our race package for mile-and-a-half tracks, and I think we’re getting there. It’s not perfect by any means, but we’re showing progress. I’m proud of how hard my No. 43 Smithfield Ford team worked this weekend.
“Texas has proven to be somewhat of an arch nemesis for us in the last two years. We haven’t run well there. We’ve struggled with our racecars being really loose on the long runs. And, those bumps in Turn 1 there are very violent, very big. They used to just be swells, but now, they’re actual bumps. They make it challenging to make your car setup to go over those bumps yet still be low to the ground and have grip.
“This is progress, and it’s something we need to keep doing,” said Almirola. “It was a solid day for our No. 43 Smithfield Ford team. That’s what we need to do. Our team is capable of running Top 15 every week, and we’re heading in that direction. It takes executing perfectly and getting everything right. And, today we did that. We did a good job on pit road.
“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.