Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway Race Report 4.23.17

April 25, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports
Food City 500 Race Report
Bristol Motor Speedway

Food City 500 Results:
1: Jimmie Johnson
22: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Rain hindered much of the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and postponed the Food City 500 to Monday afternoon. The field was set by the rulebook due to the rain, and Aric Almirola started 18th in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford. Kyle Larson set a fast pace early in the race and began lapping the field early in the 500-lap race. Almirola fell a lap down before the first caution on Lap 55 and took the Wavearound to restart on the lead lap in the 27th spot. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford was tight early and struggled to find grip. The strategy to stay out and get the Wavearound had the team in 26th at the end of Stage 1.

A heat cycle on the tires caused by the Red Flag on Lap 68 made the No. 43 Smithfield Ford even harder to drive. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for four tires and chassis and air pressure adjustments. Almirola restarted 27th, one lap down to the leaders. An incident on track with the No. 18 brought out the caution on Lap 211 with the No. 43 in the 26th spot, two laps down. Using the same strategy from the first Stage, the team stayed out and got a lap back to restart in the Lucky Dog spot, one lap down. The field restarted, and quickly, the No. 88 had an issue that brought out the caution and earned Almirola a spot on the lead lap. The team pit and made an air pressure adjustment to help the Ford Fusion turn better in the corner.

With over half the race remaining, they were back on the lead lap and in a good position to make a run for a good finish. Unfortunately, a lap-down car got into the No. 43 Smithfield Ford and caused a tire rub. Almirola was forced to pit under green and lost multiple laps, putting the team behind with just over half the race to go. The end of Stage 2 allowed the team to make another pit stop to continue to work on the sheet metal in the left, rear and make more adjustments to help the car’s handling. This uphill battle proved difficult for the team. They only had one option to take the Wavearound to get a lap back throughout the second half of the race. They continued to fight and work on the handling of the car to finish 22nd.

“We had a tough day today at Bristol, like a lot of teams,” said Almirola. “We struggled all weekend to get good turn in the corner, and the car rode really rough over the track. We got it better for the race and battled from two laps down early to get back on the lead lap. Unfortunately, another car got into us and caused us to pit under green for a tire rub. The rest of the race didn’t fall our way, and we couldn’t make up the laps we lost. We’ll keep fighting the good fight every week and look to get a good finish in Richmond next weekend.”

At Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois on September 17, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Bristol Motor Speedway Race Advance 4.23.17

April 25, 2017

Almirola Ready to Conquer ‘The Last Great Colosseum’
No. 43 Smithfield Team Looks to Continue Improvement

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

After finding consistency at the first two short tracks of the season, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team are ready to conquer one of NASCAR’s shortest tracks, Bristol Motor Speedway. Richard Petty Motorsports put a lot of work on the short-track program since the beginning of this season, and with the Tennessee oval being one of Almirola’s favorite tracks, the team is ready continue improving their Championship Points Standing with a strong run in Sunday’s race.

With 15 Monster Energy starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Almirola’s best finish (third) came in 2014, while his best start (fifth) came in 2012. With a wreck causing Almirola to finish 34th in the spring race last year, the team looks to build off the 14th place finish in the fall and race for a win on Sunday.

APPEARANCES

Aric Almirola will be kicking off the Food City 500 race weekend at the Knoxville Expo Center in Knoxville, Tennessee with an autograph session from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Tickets for the event are available at Food City locations for $5.00, or at the door on the day of the event for $6.00. All children under 12 will be admitted for Free.

When: Thursday, April 20, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Knoxville Expo Center, Knoxville, Tenn.

Aric Almirola will be continuing the weekend at the Food City Race Night at Bristol Motor Speedway with a Fresh From Florida autograph session from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.

When: Friday, April 21, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway Fan Zone

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“Bristol Motor Speedway has always been one of my favorite tracks, so I’m really excited to be back there this weekend. We’ve been consistent at the short-tracks this year, but I’m ready to end a race in Victory Lane. I feel really good about our chances of doing that here in our No. 43 Smithfield Ford. With the weather forecast this weekend, it’s going to be really important for us to be fast as soon as we unload, and I know the guys have worked hard to bring me a car that can do that. I’m confident that we’ll be able to go to Bristol and improve on the consistency we’ve had this year.”

 

At Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida on November 20, 2015. CIA Stock Photo

Texas Motor Speedway Race Report 4.9.17

April 25, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Race Report
Texas Motor Speedway

O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Results:
1: Jimmie Johnson
18: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams headed to Texas Motor Speedway to make their first laps on the newly paved and configured 1.5-mile track. Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team were fast off the truck and showed speed in practice. Almirola started the race in 18th and anticipated a good finish. Unfortunately, another car ran into the back of the No. 43 on the first lap and caused left-rear damage. The car did not handle the same, so the team utilized a Lap 10 caution to fix the damage.

The stop helped but had Almirola in the 35th spot at the restart. He worked up to 30th by the Competition Caution and the team went to work on a tight-handling Ford Fusion. A quick stop gave the No. 43 the 27th spot on the restart. Almirola reported the car felt high on the track in the front, so at the end of Stage 1, the team adjusted the height of the splitter during a four-tire pit stop. This helped the car, and Almirola worked from the 25th position into the Top 20 by the Lap 121 caution.

This time, Almirola just looked for some lateral grip. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. The Smithfield Ford restarted 21st, and Almirola methodically picked up spots. He drove into the 17th spot when the caution came out with just seven laps remaining in Stage 2. Blickensderfer called the No. 43 to pit road for service and elected to stay out at the end of Stage 2. This gave Almirola the eighth starting spot for the final stage. He ran in the Top 10 for the first 20 laps of the stage, but then radioed that he hit some debris in the right-front. He fell back to 18th while battling a inconsistent car.

The team pit to discover that the right-front crush panel was damaged from the debris and caused the car to be inconsistent. It took 70 laps before a caution came out to allow the team to fix the damage. With 35 laps remaining and anticipating more caution, the team elected to get the Wavearound and return to the lead lap for the restart. Unfortunately, the race went green until the end. Almirola battled his car up to an 18th-place finish.

“Today was extremely disappointing,” said Almirola. “We had such a good race car all weekend and should have had a much better finish. We got hit from behind on the first lap which really set us back. But this team fought hard, and we got back to where we needed to be. Drew (Blickensderfer) made a good call to pit near the end of Stage 2 to get us in the Top 10. I felt really good about our chances of staying up front and getting a Top 10, Top 15 finish. But bad luck struck again. We hit debris with the right, front and didn’t have a good chance to fix it. After that, the car was so inconsistent and hard to drive. I’m very optimistic about how well we ran most of the weekend; just really disappointed we didn’t have a finish to show for it.”

At Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 6, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Texas Motor Speedway Race Advance 4.9.17

April 6, 2017

Almirola Looks for Bigger Finish at Newly Paved and Configured Texas Track
No. 43 Smithfield Team Encouraged by Steady Improvement

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

Encouraged by steady improvement of the intermediate track program, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team are ready to tackle the new pavement and configuration of Texas Motor Speedway. Throughout the season, the team worked to improve speed off the truck and feels as they improve off the truck, they are in a better position to race in the Top 15 during the race. The team will have one practice Friday morning before qualifying on the new track and will continue to improve the Fusion’s handling for a good run on Sunday.
Almirola made 12 Monster Energy Series starts in his career. His best start (third) and finish (seventh) came in 2013. Last season, green-flag racing hindered the team from improving the car’s handling resulting in 24th and 22nd place finishes in the spring and fall races, respectively.

APPEARANCES

As part of the #KINGs80th celebration, Richard Petty and his son Kyle will participate in a feast fit for “The King” at a Speedway Children’s Charity hosted dinner. Tickets are available for the dinner, which includes a question and answer session with both Pettys and NASCAR on FOX pit reporter Jamie Little. Proceeds of the dinner will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, Petty Family Foundation and Victory Junction.

When: Friday, April 7, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Speedway Club
Tickets: Call 817-215-8434

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“So far this season, we have seen improvement in our intermediate track program. I’m looking forward to seeing more improvement this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see how the cars handle on the new service and with a new configuration. It will be important for us to unload with a fast car, so we can tweak it to the new track. I always like going to Texas. It’s a fun place and a fun race track. Hopefully, the racing will continue to be good with the new surface, and we can get a solid finish this weekend.”

At Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia on March 31, 2017. CIA Stock Photo

Martinsville Speedway Race Report 4.2.17

April 4, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports
STP 500 Race Report
Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

STP 500 Results:
1: Brad Keselowski
18: Aric Almirola, No. 43 STP Ford
It was another popular return of the STP color scheme to the No. 43 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday afternoon.  Aric Almirola raced the famed STP No. 43 to an 18th-place finish in Sunday’s STP 500 at the historic Virginia oval.
Rain washed out qualifying on Friday and Almirola and the team started 18th.  During the first Stage of the race, Almirola had a fast STP Ford.  He moved up to 15th before losing some grip. The team made several adjustments and ended the Stage in 16th.

As Stage 2 began, the team felt good about making more gains.  And, Almirola was able to maintain his position for a while, but lack of forward drive slipped the team back to 25th. Almirola raced back to 23rd at the end of the Stage.

The final stage, Almirola and the team dug deep to make a Top-10 run.  Through various adjustments, Almirola found more speed.  Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer also gave Almirola track position and the No. 43 STP Ford raced with the leaders.  At the end, the lack of grip didn’t allow the team to stay in the Top-10, but finish in 18th.
Almirola is now 17th in the championship standings after Sunday’s race.

“We felt that we were going to be better,” said Almirola. “We had a fast car after final practice, and started off pretty good today. We didn’t have the grip to give us that forward drive we needed throughout the race.  That hurt the most.  But, we were able to make good calls to get some track position and finish 18th.”
 

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