At Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan on August 26, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Michigan International Speedway Race Report

August 29, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Pure Michigan 400 Race Report
Michigan International Speedway

Pure Michigan 400 Race Results:
1: Kyle Larson
25: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Teams headed to Michigan International Speedway for the second race in the Irish Hills. Both Richard Petty Motorsports teams struggled finding the right combination to get their Ford Fusions handling well on the two-mile race track. They worked hard throughout the weekend to get a better handle. Aric Almirola battled a loose No. 43 Smithfield Ford for most of the weekend. A pit road penalty late in the race relegated the team to a 25th-place finish.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team unloaded in the Irish Hills of Michigan with the proposed 2017 aerodynamics rules package. The Ford Fusion was loose in all three practice sessions, and the team worked hard to tighten up the car to Aric Almirola’s liking for the Pure Michigan 400. At the drop of the green flag, Almirola took off tight and quickly turned loose. He was especially loose in the entry into Turn 3. Crew Chief Trent Owens took advantage of the Competition Caution on Lap 20 and brought Almirola down pit road for big changes. He called for four new tires with air pressure adjustments and a wedge adjustment.

Almirola continued to build loose throughout long green-flag runs. He consistently provided feedback on the car’s handling to help the team formulate a plan. Almirola was up the 22nd position and catching other cars on Lap 89 when he was passed by the leader and went a lap down.

The main focus for the remainder of the race was to tighten up the No. 43 Smithfield Ford and get back on the lead lap. Almirola’s feedback continued to be a loose condition around the majority of the track and that he was losing rear grip a few laps after the start of a new run. The team hit a bump in the charge for the Lucky Dog when they received a pass-through penalty for an uncontrolled tire during a green-flag stop on Lap 159, sending the Ford Fusion an additional lap down. Almirola battled with the cars on his lap at the end of the race to gain as many spots as possible and took the checkered in the 25th position.
“This 2017 rules package has been a tough one for us to wrap our arms around,” said Almirola. “We struggled with handling from the start of the weekend in race trim. We just always seemed to be too loose. But, we’ll continue working with the package and comparing notes with other races we’ve run with it and keep working to find a way it works for our team. Next week is going to be a completely different style of racing when we go to Darlington, a one-mile short track. So we’ll wipe the slate clean and head to a track where we’ve done well in the past.”

At New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon, New Hamphshire on July 16, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Michigan International Speedway Race Advance

August 24, 2016

Aric Almirola Heads to Michigan with Momentum after Top-15 Finish
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Returns to Michigan International Speedway


This past weekend, Aric Almirola finished in 14th place in the No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford. Almirola had a strong race, fighting back from being a lap down to finish in the Top 15 on the lead lap. The team will use that momentum rolling into Michigan, a track the team struggled to get a handle on earlier in the year. The first Michigan race of the 2016 season was the first time the proposed 2017 aerodynamics package had been tested in a points race setting. With the confidence boost from a strong race at Bristol and lessons learned from trying out the package earlier this year, the team is ready to head back to the two-mile race track.

Almirola has nine previous starts in the Sprint Cup Series in the Irish Hills of Michigan. His best finish of 14th came from the August race last season. He scored six Top-20 finishes at Michigan International Speedway.


“I’m looking forward to another opportunity to race this new 2017 aero package at Michigan this weekend. It’ll be beneficial for us to get more time with it to see how we can make it work best for our team moving into next season. Michigan itself is an interesting track to race at because it’s a predominantly bottom-lane track. It hasn’t widened out much with the repave they did a few years ago. You can run two-wide there, but the bottom is very much preferred. It’s a challenge to make the top work. Hopefully as the new pavement ages, we’ll get back to being able to run all over the track because it was definitely fun. With that style of racing and the new package, our team struggled to get a handle on our No. 43 Smithfield Ford the last time we were there. But, we learned a lot during the June race that we can apply to our strategy this weekend and make it work for us.”



At Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee on August 20, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Bristol Motor Speedway Night Race Report

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.”


Bristol Race Advance

August 17, 2016

Aric Almirola Recharged and Ready for Short-Track Racing
No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford Features Fans’ Names Under the
Lights at Bristol


With the final off-weekend of the 2016 season in the books, Aric Almirola feels recharged and ready to return to Bristol Motor Speedway, one of his favorite tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Almirola will run with Waffle House Powered by Smithfield on the hood of his Ford Fusion. The last time Almirola had the black and yellow of Waffle House as his primary sponsor, he competed for a win at Richmond International Raceway in the final race of the 2015 regular season. A win would’ve put Almirola into The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, but he was able to drive it home for a solid fourth-place finish, which was his best of the season. The team is hoping the paint scheme will once again bring them good luck and a great finish.

This will be the third race in which Smithfield, Waffle House and Richard Petty Motorsports have teamed up on track. Through the three-year partnership, the companies created Waffle House Race for Rewards, an app that allows patrons to earn points by eating at Waffle House and redeem those points for Waffle House merchandise and Smithfield racing gear. This season, fans could redeem 250 Race for Rewards points to have their name featured on the hood of the No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford. The Ford Fusion will race at Bristol Motor Speedway with the names of 436 Waffle House Race for Rewards fans on the hood.

Almirola has 14 previous starts at “The Last Great Colosseum”. His best finish of third place came at the spring race of the 2014 season. He earned his best starting spot of fifth place during NASCAR’s second visit to the track in 2012.


On Friday morning, Almirola will join SiriusXM’s “The Morning Drive” live from Waffle House in Piney Flats, Tenn. He’ll talk with the crew and cook up delicious bacon and waffles behind the counter. It’ll be a party at Waffle House with appearances from Almirola, Brian Scott, “The King” Richard Petty, and Dale Inman. Fans are welcome to come join in for breakfast!

When: Friday, August 19, 7:00 – 11 AM, Almirola to appear from 8:00 – 8:30 AM
Where: Waffle House, 6575 US-11E, Piney Flats, TN 37686

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 Bristol 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: Saturday, August 20, 4:30 – 5:00 PM
Where: Smithfield Display, Bristol Motor Speedway Fan Midway


“Bristol is an animal of its own. It’s a very unique racetrack. When we race there, the speeds are lower, and the baking holds the car to make the grip. So the downforce package isn’t as much of a factor when we go to Bristol as it is in other places. But, I think we took good notes away from the spring race there, and I’m looking forward to going back in our No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford. It’s a place we always run really well, and I always have it circled on the calendar. We’ve got high hopes going to Bristol, and we’re thinking that we could make our way to victory lane there this weekend.”

At Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York on August 7, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Watkins Glen International Race Report

August 8, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Race Report
Watkins Glen International

Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Results:

1: Denny Hamlin
27: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

NASCAR headed to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York this weekend, road course racing at Watkins Glen International. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford and the No. 44 Shaw’s, Shore Lodge Ford both fought with loose-handling race cars throughout the weekend and the teams worked hard to prepare for race day. But, after battling hard all afternoon to move through the field, both Almirola and Scott saw their days spoiled by late-race accidents. Scott finished in 25th place, and Almirola finished in the 27th position.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford



It was a full day of fighting through adversity for the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team at Watkins Glen International. After rolling off in the 34th position, Aric Almirola quickly started to move through the field. By the time the first caution came on Lap 14, he was in 27th place with a car that was loose in the s-turns but handled well everywhere else. Because the team wouldn’t lose much track position by coming down pit road, Crew Chief Trent Owens gave the Ford Fusion four new tires and fuel. He restarted in the 33rd position.

Almirola patiently worked his way up into the 26th position. He was there when bad luck struck for the first time, and he sustained front-end damage in an accident on Lap 58. With a caved-in nose and bowed hood, Almirola made two stops on pit road. The first was to take four fresh tires and assess the damage, and the second stop gave the team time to seal the hood. He returned to the track in 33rd place, on the lead lap.

Almirola reported that the No. 43 Smithfield Ford was tighter in the s-turns because of the damage but felt good everywhere else. Almirola worked through the field and was in 29th place when he was once again collected in the wreckage of an accident. The hood was knocked around more, but because he could still see through the windshield, Owens kept him on track. However, Almirola found himself with nowhere to go when spinning cars brought out the caution on Lap 85, and the damage required a visit to pit road. The team beat the hood back down and cut pieces of the car away from the wheels to allow Almirola to finish the final laps of the race. Overcoming the damage from three separate incidents, Almirola was able to bring the No. 43 Smithfield Ford home in 27th place and on the lead lap.

“What a day in Watkins Glen,” said Almirola. “Road-course racing can be rough, and we saw that today, getting caught up in three separate accidents not of our own making. It definitely wasn’t the day that we set out to have, but my team fought through it and we worked with what we had in front of us. I hate that we couldn’t get the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion a better finish. I’d start making a run through the field and either a caution would come out or I was unfortunately part of the caution. But, we’ll take advantage of the upcoming off weekend to regroup and prepare for Bristol. It’s a good track for our team, and I’m looking forward to heading back.”

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