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.”

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

Watkins Glen Race Advance

August 2, 2016

Aric Almirola Heads to Watkins Glen Ready to Rebound
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Caught Up in Pocono Wreck


Aric Almirola heads to the second road course of the season looking to rebound after a difficult weekend in Pocono. Making his 200th Sprint Cup Series start, Almirola was moving forward through the field when his day ended after a two-car wreck. It was a disappointing end to the weekend, but Almirola has turned his focus to the 11 turns of Watkins Glen International. Road courses were a new challenge for Almirola when he began his NASCAR career, but he gets stronger and more confident each time he competes at both Watkins Glen and Sonoma. After a solid run in New York last year, Almirola is looking to continue his road course gains this weekend in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford.

Almirola has five previous starts at Watkins Glen. His best finish of 16th place came in the 2015 season. He earned his best starting position in 2008 when he rolled off in the 15th position.


Almirola will be stopping by the Ford Display in the Watkins Glen International Fan Zone on Sunday morning. Make sure to be there with your questions for him to answer!
When: Sunday, August 7, 11:40 – 11:55 AM
Where: Watkins Glen International Fan Zone

Almirola will visit the Turn 1 Tavern to talk with fans on Sunday morning before the big race. The Turn 1 Tavern is part of Watkins Glen’s fan hospitality, and tickets can be purchased on the tracks website.
When: Sunday, August 7, 12:00 – 12:15 PM
Where: Turn 1 Tavern


“Watkins Glen was just repaved, and I think it’s going to change how we approach the race. I think the ‘s-turns’ will be much faster, and we’ll carry a lot more speed down into the bus stop. The whole race track will have a lot more grip. I’m hopeful that it won’t become a one-lane racetrack. Over the years, Watkins Glen has become really fun to race at, and it’s provided some of the best finishes in our sport. So, I really hope those characteristics of the track stay the same and we don’t run around there fighting for every inch because it’s now a one groove race track. My team is looking forward to taking our No. 43 Smithfield Ford up there to see what we can do.”


At Pocono Speedway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania on July 29, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Pocono Raceway Race Report

August 2, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Pennsylvania 400 Race Report
Pocono Raceway

Pennsylvania 400 Results:

1: Chris Buescher
39: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The Pocono Raceway lived up to it’s nickname the “Tricky Triangle” this weekend. Not only was the track a struggle to get a handle on, but Mother Nature threw a wrench in the plans. First rain postponed the race until Monday afternoon. Then, fog caused a halt and inevitable end to the Pennsylvania 400 22 laps before the scheduled 160 laps.  Unfortunately, Aric Almirola’s day ended earlier when on-track contact damaged the No. 43 Smithfield Ford and ended Almirola’s 200th start on just the 67th lap.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Aric Almirola’s weekend started with reflection on the fact that he would be making his 200th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but when it came time to hit the track, Almirola was only focused on scoring a decent finish and turning his season around. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford haven’t had the year they would like, and unfortunately, this weekend at Pocono Raceway was no different.

Almirola started from the 27th spot and felt like the No. 43 Smithfield Ford was the best it had been all weekend. The Competition Caution on Lap 17 allowed the team to make adjustments to a tight-handling race car. The pit crew changed four tires and made a small wedge adjustment. Almirola returned to the track in the 30th spot. A caution on the restart allowed Crew Chief Trent Owens to gamble and call Almirola in for a fuel-only stop. Almirola restarted 32nd and quickly returned to the 28th position. Still tight, Almirola made a trackbar adjustment in the car and worked up to 24th before green-flag pit stops began.

Owens called the No. 43 Smithfield Ford down pit road six laps later and made an adjustment during the four-tire stop. Almirola returned to the track in the 22nd spot looking forward. Unfortunately, contact with the No. 32 coming out of Turn Three sent the No. 43 Smithfield Ford into the wall and ended Almirola’s day early. He finished 39th.

“Man, this season has been really tough,” said Almirola. “It just seems like no matter what we do, we can’t get a decent finish. We struggled early in the weekend, but by race day, I felt like the car was much better. I think we could have ran in the Top-20. And with the way the race ended, you never know what could have happened. Unfortunately, we were taken out early. To have another DNF is very disappointing. We’ll continue fighting the good fight and get after it in Watkins Glen next week.”

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

Pocono Raceway Race Advance

July 27, 2016

Aric Almirola Makes 200th Sprint Cup Start at Pocono Raceway
Use #AA200 to Join the Celebration


This weekend at Pocono Raceway is a monumental one for Aric Almirola. After his first Sprint Cup start in 2007, he had several years of only part-time rides with various teams. It took time, patience and perseverance to reach the point of having a full-time ride in the sport’s premier national touring series. This is Almirola’s fifth full season with Richard Petty Motorsports, and 170 of his 200 starts have been with the team. During his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Almirola has scored one win at Daytona International Speedway in 2014. He’ll head to the Poconos this weekend in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford looking to secure his second win in the series to top off the monumental weekend.

Almirola has nine previous starts at “The Tricky Triangle”. He tied his best finish of 18th place in the 2012 and 2015 seasons. Earlier this year, Almirola competed in the track’s inaugural XFINITY Series race and finished in the 11th position.


“I thought we had a much better car than where we finished at Pocono back in June. We had some bad luck strike that cost us a better finish, but I thought that we had a Top-15, or possibly even a Top-10 No. 43 Smithfield Ford. So I’m looking forward to going back to Pocono this weekend. We’ve got a few key areas to work on before we get back there, but I’m confident that those improvements will come and it’ll be a good weekend for our team.

“It’s also going to be my 200th start, which is a pretty cool milestone. To say that I’ve been around this sport long enough to make 200 Sprint Cup starts is incredible. I remember my first race back at Las Vegas in 2007. I was so nervous; I didn’t sleep a wink that whole weekend because I had dreamed about going Cup racing my whole life. So when I finally got the opportunity, I wanted to make the most of it. I’ll definitely sleep better the night before race day this weekend, but I’m still just as excited to climb into a Sprint Cup car for my 200th start as I was for my first.”

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 24, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Race Report

July 25, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Brickyard 400 Race Report
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Brickyard 400 Results:
1: Kyle Busch
25: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was rough on all involved. Between heat advisories and four cautions in the final 10 laps of the race setting up two overtime attempts, teams and fans alike had a long weekend at the famed track. It wasn’t any different for the Richard Petty Motorsports teams. Aric Almirola struggled to find a good handle on his No. 43 Smithfield Ford and finished 25th.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

It was a hot weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but teams showed up ready to race for 400 miles. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford had two practice sessions on Friday afternoon to fine tune before Sunday’s main event. Aric Almirola’s Ford Fusion was tight through both practices, and the team worked tirelessly to loosen him up. Still battling tight conditions in Saturday’s qualifying session, Almirola rolled off in the 29th position to start the Brickyard 400.

Reports from Almirola in the opening laps of the race indicated that he was still battling a tight Ford Fusion, and Crew Chief Trent Owens got to work on a plan to try and loosen up the car. Catching a quick caution on Lap 5, Owens brought Almirola down pit road from the 30th position for big changes. He took wedge adjustments to both sides of the car and air pressure changes in his four fresh tires and restarted in the 36th position. But, in only six laps, Almirola made his way back through the field to the 29th position.

Almirola continued to work with Ford Fusion as best he could from the cockpit by adjusting his trackbar and providing detailed feedback to Owens. However, the car’s handling remained difficult to get a hold of throughout the race, and he fell two laps down. Almirola took the Wavearound when possible, and the team tried different pit strategies to gain back track position. The final 10 laps were wild, seeing four cautions and two overtime attempts. Almirola sustained damage during an accident in the first overtime attempt, but a quick stop down pit road to pull his left rear fender away from the tire kept him alive. He was able to bring the No. 43 Ford Fusion home in 25th place.

“We didn’t get the finish that we wanted, but my team worked hard today,” said Almirola. “This is a difficult track to get a handle on, and that got the best of us. But, my guys never gave up. They worked until the very last lap of the race to try and loosen me up and get us moving in the right direction. We’ll keep our noses to the grind and keep working hard heading into Pocono next week.”

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