At Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Fontana on March 18, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Auto Club Race Report 3.26.17

March 29, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports
Auto Club 400 Race Report
Auto Club Speedway

Auto Club 400 Results:
1: Kyle Larson
19: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford was good off the truck in California, but a mishap in qualifying gave Almirola the 31st starting spot for the Auto Club 400. When the green flag dropped, Almirola jumped up 10 spots to 21st. The car was tight in the middle of the corner in the first run. Almirola came in for a green-flag pit stop on Lap 32 and pit for four tires and a wedge adjustment. He finished Stage 1 in 21st and said the car was much better in the exit of the corner but still needed more overall grip. The team made another four-tire pit stop and wedge adjustment.

Stage 2 went green on Lap 67 with Almirola in the 21st spot, and by Lap 91, the team pit for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford cycled into the 20th spot and in the free pass position. Before the end of Stage 2, Almirola found a fast line in Turns One and Two but was still working to find a fast line in Turns Three and Four. When Stage 2 was completed, Almirola raced in 20th and looked for more overall grip. The Smithfield team changed four tires and made another air pressure adjustment.

Almirola started the final stage in the 21st spot. On Lap 152, he came in for a pit stop with a wedge adjustment to help a loose condition. In the 20th spot, he radioed that the car was very bouncy on the splitter and lost down force on the car. A caution on Lap 180 allowed the team to take the Wavearound to get back on the lead lap. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford restarted 22nd and on the lead lap. A quick yellow was just what the team needed, so Almirola came down pit road to assess the problem with the bouncy splitter and lost down force. The team made a four-tire pit stop and found some splitter damage. The team taped up the splitter to try to help the car’s handling in the final laps. A caution on Lap 192 allowed the team to make another stop for fresh tires, a benefit at Auto Club Speedway. Almirola restarted 20th and drove up to 17th. Unfortunately, the car got into the wall in Turn Four and finished 19th.

“We struggled,” said Almirola. “We just don’t have the overall grip and speed in our cars, but we’re working hard. Everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports has been working really hard. It’s a big improvement from Atlanta. We gained on it when we went to Vegas, and then, we’ve kind of gotten flat and stagnant. We haven’t been making as many gains and strides since Atlanta, so we still have some work to do. I’m proud of the effort; we just have to dig deep. We have to keep working hard and get speed and more grip in our car so we can go and compete.”

At Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky on July, 9, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Auto Club Race Advance 3.26.17

March 23, 2017

Consistency Key in California for Almirola and Smithfield Team
Top-15 Finish in Vegas has Team Optimistic

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

After a scoring a Top-15 finish in Vegas, the No. 43 Smithfield team looks forward to another intermediate race this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Aric Almirola is 17th in the Championship Points and looking for a solid finish this weekend. The team continues to work on their program looking for results and consistency this season and California.

Almirola made nine Monster Energy Series starts at Auto Club Speedway and earned two Top-15 finishes. He scored his best finish of 11th in 2015.

APPEARANCES

Richard Petty will join other Auto Club Speedway legends and past winners to the Fan Zone Main Stage for great stories and some good bench racing. Petty joins Roger Penske, Michael Waltrip, and Rusty Wallace.

When: Sunday, March 26, 9:40 a.m.
Where: Fan Zone Main Stage

Almirola will stop by the Air Force display to sign autographs before he hops into the No. 43 Ford for the Auto Club 400.

When: Sunday, March 26, 9:50 a.m.
Where: Air Force display in the Fan Zone

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“I like racing in California. You can race all over the track to find the grip and speed you need. But the teams are really tricky making it one of the toughest places we race in terms of how you position your car on the track. We had a good finish in Vegas, and we’re looking to repeat that this week in California. We’ve worked really hard on our intermediate program and are looking forward to that hard work paying off. Hopefully, that will happen this weekend.”

At Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia on October 31, 2015. CIA Stock Photo

Phoenix Raceway Race Report

March 23, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports
Camping World 500 Race Report
Phoenix Raceway

Camping World 500 Results:
1: Ryan Newman
17: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team had to start from the back of the field on Sunday after the team made an engine change. Starting from the back, Almirola quickly made his way into the Top 30, and by the first caution on Lap 27, he held the 28th spot. With engine temperature running a bit hot and a tight-handling condition through the center of the corner, the team pulled tape and made an adjustment during a four-tire stop.

Almirola restarted 30th. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford handled well early in the run allowing Almirola to race as high as 23rd before the car began to get too loose. The end of Stage 1 allowed the team to go back on the last adjustment and make an air pressure adjustment. This helped the No. 43 Smithfield Ford, and the team continued to make air pressure adjustments to dial in the handling. Almirola raced as high as 25th in the second stage and completed Stage 2 in 29th after a speeding penalty sent the No. 43 back in the field.

Another air pressure adjustment and four-tire stop set up the team for the final stage. The team continued to get the car feeling better for Almirola, and he raced as high as 16th in the final stage. A caution in the final laps of the race setup a strategy call for the No. 43 team. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer elected to change four tires on the No. 43 Smithfield Ford. Almirola restated 20th and worked his way up to 17th during the Green-White-Checkered finish. He is now 17th in the Championship Points.

“We did what we needed to do today,” said Almirola. “We needed to find more speed off the truck and worked hard all weekend to do that. We started in the back of the field for an engine change but were able to get back up quickly. We struggled at the beginning to get turn in the center of the corner, but the guys made good changes and got the car handling well at the beginning of the run late in the race. Drew made a good call to get four tires at the end since we were better on the short run. A 17th-place finish was a decent point day for us, and we’ll work to build on that.”

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 5, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Phoenix International Raceway Race Advance 3.19.17

March 15, 2017

Continued Improvement is Goal for No. 43 Smithfield Team in Phoenix
Almirola and Team Rebounded Last Weekend at Vegas with 14th-Place Finish

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team saw improvement in Las Vegas last weekend after a disappointing showing in Atlanta. Now, the team heads to Phoenix Raceway, the first short track of the 2017 season, and looks for a solid finish to keep the team in the Top 15 of Championship Points.

Almirola has 12 Monster Energy Series starts at Phoenix Raceway. His had his best start of fifth in 2012 and finish of 10th in 2015. He tallied one Top-10, five Top-15 and nine Top-20 finishes in his career. Last spring, Almirola and team started 14th, raced in the Top-15 all day and finished 13th.

APPEARANCES

Fans will have a chance to say “Happy Birthday” to the “The King” when Petty makes an appearance on the DC Solar Power Pavilion (formerly Fan Midway) main stage for a Q&A at 9:15 a.m. prior to the start of the Camping World 500.

When: Sunday, March 19, 9:15 a.m.

Where: DC Solar Power Pavilion

Prior to the Monster Energy Series race, Almirola and Richard Petty will judge the Smithfield Grill Master Challenge. The 2017 competition will feature three fans as competitors who will be chosen at random. They will be given 90 minutes to prepare their own signature dish featuring Smithfield products. Almirola and Petty will judge the plates based on originality and creativity; oral presentation and visual appearance. The chef of the winning plate will receive a “King” prize pack.

When: Sunday, March 19, 9:45 a.m.

Where: Smithfield Display in the Fanzone

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“I’m looking forward to going to Phoenix this weekend. We had a good weekend in Vegas and look to carry over momentum into this week. It’s our first short track this season, and we usually do pretty well in the Spring race. So, I’m looking forward to putting our short track program to the test. Last year, we had a good short track program, especially toward the end of the season. We’ll look to continue that this weekend in Phoenix.”

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

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Race Report 3.12.17

March 13, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports
Las Vegas 400 Race Report
Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas 400 Results:
1: Martin Truex, Jr.
14: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team competed in their first of a three-race West Coast swing Sunday at the Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. The team wanted to drastically improve their intermediate program and did so with a 14th-place finish and a lot of information learned for the season.

Almirola started 30th for Sunday’s race, but before the green flag flew, the team made many changes to the car. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer, the engineering staff and the crew had a game plan, and when the race started, Almirola was able to move to the front. The car was much better, and by the end of the First Stage, Almirola was near the Top-20.

The Second Stage, another 80-lap run, Almirola was again fast. The team made more adjustments, and it was the best the car raced. Almirola was able to get as high as 15th before running consistently in the 18th or 19th position through the Stage. The only issue was an alternator that failed, and keeping the battery charged became a concern.

As the Smithfield crew began the final Stage and a longer run to the finish, more adjustments to the car were made. The alternator was still a concern, but Almirola was able to report that the battery had enough volts to make it to the end.
A late-race caution created a five-lap shootout. Almirola had fresh tires and was on the Lead Lap- less than 20 cars were at the end. Almirola had a good restart, and then, Brad Keselowski, the leader, ran out of fuel. This caused him to fall back and contact between  the 22 and 18 sent the 18 spinning on the last lap. Almirola stayed hard on the gas and diced his way to 14th in a great charge at the end.
The finish placed Almirola 14th in the Championship Standings.

“That was a lot more enjoyable for us,” said Almirola. “We made a lot of progress from last week ,and we learned some things, too. I think everything we can take from today will help us move forward to qualify better and then race inside the Top 10 and gain points throughout the day. In this sport, little things make a huge difference, and today, we gained on that.”

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