February 27, 2017
Richard Petty Motorsports
Powershare QQQ 300 Race Report
Daytona International Speedway
Powershare QQQ 300 Results:
1: Ryan Reed
23: Aric Almirola, No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford
Aric Almirola piloted the No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford for Biagi DenBeste Racing to kick off the 2017 season of the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Almirola started the Powershare QQQ 300 from the 22nd position but quickly raced his way to the Top 15 by Lap 3 at his home track, Daytona International Speedway. Lap 5 brought out the first of ten cautions for the night. Almirola was happy with how his car was handling, and the No. 98 crew decided to stay out under the caution.
Lap 19 saw the second caution, and the No. 98 Ford won the race off pit road after taking two tires and fuel. Almirola was caught in a 20-car incident on Lap 24, which caused minor damage to the right-rear of the No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford. The team pitted for four tires and some repairs before the red flag waved on Lap 25. Thankfully, the damage didn’t hurt the car’s speed, and after one more caution, Almirola ended Stage One in the 16th position. Restarting third on Lap 34, Almirola fought a tight car but decided not to pit during the next caution. Almirola ran in the Top 15 for the remainder of Stage Two and started the final stage from the 12th position.
After the Lap 65 restart, Almirola swiftly made his way to the Top Five and was able to consistently run in the Top 10 for the next 35 laps. On Lap 103, an issue with Almirola’s left-front wheel hub caused steering issues for the No. 98 Ford. Almirola brought the Fresh From Florida Ford down pit road when a caution came out, so Almirola headed back on track to stay on the lead lap. During the caution, Almirola brought the No. 98 back down pit road two more times. Unfortunately, the crew determined that the issue could not be fixed. Almirola had to drive his Fresh From Florida Ford to the garage ending his race. Scored with a 23rd-place finish, Almirola looks forward to another good run with the No. 98 crew at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend.
“I thought for sure we were going to put a Ford Mustang in Victory Lane, especially our Fresh from Florida Mustang because it was strong,” said Almirola. “I put myself in a position I wanted to be in, and I was kind of content right there just to chill and get ready for the end of the race, but we had some sort of mechanical failure right there. I had to bail out of the draft. Something in the front-end, but I’m not sure what really happened. I couldn’t drive it anymore. It wouldn’t even go in a straight line, so I don’t know. We failed a part or a piece. It’s disappointing. I thought we had a really good shot to win. Every time we come to these races with Biagi we have fun and we run up front, and today was no different, but unfortunately something happened.”