August 24, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Bristol Night Race Report
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Night Race Results:
1: Kevin Harvick
14: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford
Rain postponed the Bristol Night Race after just 32 laps under green-flag conditions on Saturday night. Scheduled for Sunday afternoon, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series didn’t hit the track until the evening as more rain fell in the afternoon. With weather out of the area, the 500-lap race was a battle in itself as the field saw four cautions for multi-car accidents throughout the race. Aric Almirola drove the No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford from the 17th starting spot to a 14th-place finish.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford
The Tennessee rain made Bristol Motor Speedway’s Sprint Cup Series race a 24-hour event, but that didn’t stop Richard Petty Motorsports and the No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford team. The first night of racing only allowed for 38 laps of racing before the race was postponed to Sunday afternoon. Aric Almirola rolled off in the 17th position and got hung up on the outside groove that wasn’t working well early in the race. He fell back to 24th place. Finding a hole in the bottom lane, Almirola tucked in and made is way up to the 21st position before rain ended the night.
After rain once again pushed the start back on Sunday afternoon, the race got underway. Almirola restarted in 21st place but fell to the back with a tight-handling Ford Fusion. With wedge and air pressure adjustments during pit stops, Crew Chief Trent Owens made improvements to the handling, and Almirola started to move through the field. Caught by the leader on Lap 138, Almirola went one lap down, and the battle was on to get the free pass and get back on the lead lap.
At a track where it’s hard to stay in the Lucky Dog position as the leader passes cars during the quick, 15-second laps, Almirola fought to keep himself the leader of the lapped cars. On the Lap 309 caution, Almirola was the recipient of the free pass and returned to the lead lap. Knowing he had a strong car that got better as the runs went on, Almirola patiently worked his way up to the Top 15. When the checkers fell after 500 laps, Almirola finished in 14th place.
“We had a good No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford Fusion,” said Almirola. “It didn’t take off as great as other cars did, but the handling got better and better as our runs continued. To go from being a lap down to finishing in the Top 15 is tough, but my team worked hard and put in a great effort. This definitely gives us a motivational boost going into Michigan next week.”