At Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware on October 2, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Dover International Speedway Race Report

October 3, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Citizen Soldier 400 Race Report
Dover International Speedway

Citizen Soldier 400 Race Results:
1: Martin Truex Jr.
16: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports teams competed in the Citizen Soldier 400 at the “Monster Mile” of Dover International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Both teams made it out of the one-mile track without being bitten by the notoriously rough racetrack.

The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team raced as high as 12th on Sunday afternoon with a car that was great on restarts. Continuing the journey to turn the season around, the team brought a strong racecar to the track. A loose wheel hurt the team’s chance at a Top-15 finish, but they battled back with a gutsy fuel strategy to finish in 16th place.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford 

After a rain-filled weekend cancelled qualifying, Aric Almirola started the Citizen Soldier 400 in 27th place. Almirola was happy with the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion from the start. It was tight on landing, but exit and entry were good. When the first caution came on Lap 35, Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer made air pressure adjustments in the left side tires but didn’t want to make any major adjustments. Almirola restarted in the 25th position and quickly made track-position gains.

When the next caution came on Lap 106, Almirola was in 17th place. The team was happy with the Ford Fusion’s restarts and handling on the long runs. When Almirola hit pit road, the team made air pressure adjustments on the right side tires this time. The right-side adjustments weren’t as helpful as the left-side changes had been, and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion’s front end wasn’t turning as well this run. But, Almirola continued to run quick lap times and race in the Top 20.

The leaders caught Almirola in 16th-place on Lap 257, putting him a lap down. One of the fastest cars one lap down, Almirola fought with his competitors for the Lucky Dog position. But, it was on Lap 300 when the fateful call came across the radio that the car had a loose left, rear wheel. Almirola gave it a few laps to see if the sensation would fade, but, it did not. He came to pit road on Lap 304 to take four new tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 18th place and three laps down. No longer on the same pit strategy as everyone else, the team had an opportunity to try and gain positions by finishing the race without stopping again for fuel. Almirola gained a lap back by staying out during a cycle of green-flag stops, and he saved enough fuel to make it to the checkers. He finished the race in 16th place and two laps down.

“We had a great No. 43 Smithfield Ford today,” said Almirola. “It was especially great on restarts, and I was moving through the field pretty well. That loose wheel killed our chances there towards the end, but Drew’s decision to try and make it on fuel from that point on was definitely the best call. We weren’t going to get back on the lead lap, but we wanted to get back as many positions as we could. We’ve been working to turn our season around, and I think we’ve hit on something. We’ve had really strong cars two weeks in a row. I’m looking forward to heading to Charlotte next week and continuing to run well.”

At Richmond International Speedway in Richmond, Virginia on September 9, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Dover International Speedway Race Advance

September 27, 2016

Aric Almirola Building on Improvements Heading to Dover
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Has Positive Momentum Leaving Loudon


With changes in the race shop and on the road, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team have been working hard to get the 2016 season turned around and begin preparations for next year. Coming off of a disappointing finish in Chicago, Almirola went to New Hampshire with high expectations after a strong run at the one-mile oval earlier in the year. With great pit strategy from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer and the team’s hard work all weekend, Almirola brought the No. 43 Smithfield Ford home in the 17th position after running in the Top-15. Looking ahead as the team gets ready for Dover, Almirola is hoping that the positive momentum will catapult them to an even stronger finish at one of his favorite tracks.

When asked what track he enjoys visiting the most, Dover International Speedway is always at the top of Almirola’s list. In his nine Sprint Cup Series starts at the track, he has three Top-10 finishes, tying his best finish of fifth place in both 2015 races. He has four XFINITY Series starts at Dover and secured his best finish of ninth place in 2011. Dover is also where Almirola scored his first career Camping World Truck Series win in 2010.


Fans will have the opportunity to see both Almirola and “The King” Richard Petty when they judge a rib-eating contest at the Smithfield display in Dover International Speedway’s Fan Midway. On Sunday morning, pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat eight Smithfield ribs the fastest. The winner will be crowned by Almirola and Petty.

When: Sunday, October 2, 11:30 – 11:45 AM
Where: Smithfield Display, Dover International Speedway Fan Midway


“Dover is wild and crazy. It’s a really cool racetrack, and the nickname ‘The Monster’ certainly fits it well. It’s a really awesome race track; I love it. I tend to run really well there. The ride that you get inside the car is unlike any other track that we go to. The straightaway is elevated from the corner so you get a roller coaster effect going down into the corners. It’s a high-banked track with lots of speed, and just the sensation of speed at Dover is unlike anywhere else that we go. I always enjoy making the trip up there. I’m looking forward to getting our No 43 Smithfield Ford out on the track and continuing the positive steps forward that we made last week in Loudon.”

At New Hamphshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hamphsire on September 25, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Race Report

September 26, 2016

ichard Petty Motorsports
Bad Boy Off Road 300 Race Report
New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Bad Boy Off Road 300 Race Results:
1: Kevin Harvick
17: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports teams competed in the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. on Sunday afternoon- the second race of the NASCAR playoffs.
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team raced from 26th to 17th on Sunday, after racing as high as 13th in the closing laps before a late-race restart.  The performance was one of the best for the team all season, although the finish didn’t show the progress made.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team continued to show strength on tracks less than a mile-and-a-half on Sunday.  Almirola finished 17th in Sunday’s race where track position was at a premium.  The pit crew had fast pit stops, Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer executed a strong race strategy and adjustments late helped Alrmirola pass to  the front.
Starting 26th, Almirola advanced to race in the 22nd and 21st position for the first half of the race. A lack of cautions, the team eventually went a lap down and was forced to take the wave around to get back on the Lead Lap.

Once back on the Lead Lap, and with a series of adjustments made to the No. 43 Smithfield Ford, Almirola was able to move from 21st into the Top-15.  He raced as high as 13th late in the race before a caution waved. The team took four tires on the last restart, but Almirola was stuck in traffic and wasn’t able to race for a Top-10.  A fast car, Almirola was able to get back in line and finish 17th.
“The last restart hurt us and that is too bad,” said Almirola. “Overall, this was a good day for our Smithfield Ford Fusion.  We had a Top-15 car and had a chance at a Top-10 at the end. Drew made good calls and we put ourselves in a good position at the end of the race. We just didn’t need that last caution.  The last restart, we didn’t have a good line.  We were a little better on longer runs and track position hurt us right there at the end.”

At Atlanta Motor Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia on February 28, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Race Advance

September 20, 2016

Aric Almirola Heads Back to New Hampshire Looking for Redemption
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Strong in Loudon’s July Race


Aric Almirola returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend after a late-race lugnut issue during the July race spoiled what would have been a Top-10 finish. After visiting pit road to get all five lugnuts on the wheel to avoid steep penalties, Almirola restarted in the back of the field and fought his way to a 19th-place finish. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team will look to build upon what they learned from that solid run and secure a Top-10 finish this time around. Although not in The Chase, Almirola and the team are using the final Chase races to revitalize their season and win races. Almirola has nothing to lose and everything to gain in the final push to close out 2016 on the upswing, and New Hampshire has been a good track for him in the past.

This trip to Loudon, N.H., will be Almirola’s 12th start at the one-mile oval. He scored two Top-10 finishes, a fifth-place finish in 2013 and a sixth-place finish in 2014. Almirola ran one XFINITY race there and finished in the fifth position.


Fans will have the opportunity to see both Almirola and “The King” Richard Petty when they judge the Whole Hog Challenge at the Smithfield display in New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s Fan Midway. Pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat eight Smithfield ribs the fastest. The winner, crowned by Almirola and Petty, will move on to participate in the final Whole Hog Challenge Championship in Miami at the end of the season.

When: Sunday, September 25, 10:25 – 10:55 AM

Where: Smithfield Display, New Hampshire Motor Speedway Fan Midway


“New Hampshire Motor Speedway can be a challenge to get a handle on because it’s such a unique racetrack. It’s flat, and the corners are really long. You spend more time in the corners there than you do on the straightaways which is much different than most of the tracks that we go to. So you have to have a car that is turning well, but, at the same time, you have a car that’s driving off of the corner with a lot of rear grip. It can be really hard to find that balance. But, we ran up in the Top 10 there earlier this year, so we’ve definitely got a good set of notes to use going into the weekend. I’m excited to see what we can do this time in our No. 43 Smithfield Ford.”



At Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois on September 18, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Chicagoland Speedway Race Report

September 20, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Race Report
Chicagoland Speedway

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Race Results:
1: Martin Truex Jr.
32: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to the Windy City for the series’ only race at Chicagoland Speedway and the kick off to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Richard Petty Motorsports teams battled the 1.5-mile speedway throughout the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday. Both teams worked hard on the handling of their cars.  Aric Almirola got stuck on pit road when a caution came out and fell to the leaders. He finished 32nd in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 was a battle for Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team from the drop of the green flag. Almirola started the race at the rear of the field and had to fight his way through the field. He initially reported that the Ford Fusion was tight on exit and in traffic. Throughout the run, the car started to turn loose on entry. He went one lap down, and Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer made big changes during the first pit stop on Lap 49. A caution came out while Almirola was on pit road, and he got stuck two laps down.

The handling struggles continued for the team. The car kept up the pattern of starting tight and turning loose on both entry and exit. Blickensderfer worked with tire pressures and wedge adjustments to help Almirola. Unable to race in the preferred line with how he was handling, Almirola worked with his spotter to find other open lanes to race in and get comfortable.

Eventually finding themselves four laps down and in the 32nd position, the team worked with pit strategies to try to get laps back and improve their standing on the leaderboard. Almirola took the Wavearound during the Lap 193 caution in hopes of a quick caution, but a caution didn’t come. The team had to short pit, losing the lap they had gained back. In a race with few cautions, there were no more opportunities to take the Wavearound and advance their position. Almirola took the checkers in 32nd place and four laps down.

“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. But, next week we go short-track racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and it’ll be a whole different game plan.”

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