November 21, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Report
Homestead-Miami Speedway Race Results:
1: Jimmie Johnson
40: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season came to a close on Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In a season that saw highs and lows for the Richard Petty Motorsports teams, both the No. 43 and No. 44 teams looked to end the year strong after a 36 race battle.
Unfortunately, the season for Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team ended like much of the rest of the season with the promise of a good finish marred by outside forces. The No. 43 Fusion qualified in the 25th position for Sunday’s race, but something broke in the rear housing and sent Almirola to the garage with less than 100 laps to go. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford returned to the track and finished in the 40th position.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion
The conculsion of Aric Almirola’s double duty weekend came on Sunday night with the final Sprint Cup Series race of season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Having a tight No. 43 Smithfield Ford in each practice session, Almirola qualified in the 25th position to start the race. He started the first run of the night extremely tight. He got looser on entry and exit as laps went on but remained tight in the center.
Trouble first struck on Lap 65 when Almirola made contact with the wall, causing a right, rear flat tire. He brought the Ford Fusion to pit road under green for four new tires and to pull out the damaged quarter panel. He lost a lap to the leaders but returned to the track with the damage. When the next caution flag fell on Lap 79, the team made two stops on pit road to fix the remaining damage.
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford remained tight through the center and loose on entry and exit with most of Almirola’s feedback focusing on the need for rear grip. But, another issue arose when Almirola reported on Lap 180 that something had broken in the rear-end housing and the steering wheel was no longer aligned. The team tried to fix the No. 43 Smithfield Ford on pit road but had to take it to the garage. Not wanting to give up in the last race of the season, the team fixed the issue and sent Almirola back on track 54 laps down with 35 laps to go in the race. Almirola finished in 40th place.
“I’m disappointed that we ended the season with a 40th-place finish,” said Almirola. “But, things break, and that’s just part of racing. I’m proud of my team for hustling to get us back on track and finish the race even though we couldn’t advance our finishing position at that point. They’ve been resilient all year though. We’ve had a difficult season, but we’ve never stopped working hard to get our team where we need to be. We’ll head home and start getting ready for a great 2017 season.”