At Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia on October 29, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Martinsville Speedway Race Advance

October 28, 2016

Aric Almirola Looks to Continue Recent Short Track Success in Martinsville
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Suffered Rare Engine Failure at Earlier Martinsville Race

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

The final 10 races of the season feature four short tracks, one mile or less. With two of those races complete, Aric Almirola scored a 17th-place finish in New Hampshire and a 16th-place finish in Dover. This weekend’s race in Martinsville will be the third short-track race, and Almirola is looking forward to continuing his strong finishes. During the previous trip to Martinsville this season, the team suffered a rare engine failure and was unable to finish the race. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford is prepared to make the trip back to the southern Virginia track and showcase the strong short-track program.

This weekend will be Almirola’s 16th Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. His best finish of 12th place came in the 2012 season for Richard Petty Motorsports.

APPEARANCES

Almirola will meet with fans at the Fanatics tent in the Fan Midway on race day morning. Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports merchandise can be purchased at Fanatics prior to the autograph session.

When: Sunday, October 30, 10:00 – 10:15 AM
Where: Fanatics Tent, Martinsville Speedway

Fans will have the opportunity to see Almirola when he judges the Whole Hog Challenge at the Smithfield Display in Martinsville Speedway’s Fan Midway. Pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat two pounds of Smithfield bacon the fastest. The winner, crowned by Almirola, will move on to participate in the final Whole Hog Challenge Championship in Miami at the end of the season.

When: Sunday, October 30, 10:15 – 10:45 AM
Where: Smithfield Display, Martinsville Speedway

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“Between the tire that Goodyear is bringing to Martinsville and the new aerodynamics package, the cars seem to be driving quite a bit differently than in the past. We struggled a bit adapting to those changes at the last Martinsville and didn’t run how we normally do there. We’ve been running in the Top 15 for the last four years, but we didn’t run that well last time, and then we ended up having an engine issue. But, I think that we’ve gotten a better handle on the package here recently, and we’ve been showing improvement these past few weeks, especially at short tracks. We’ll definitely have some work to do once we get to the track, but this team has worked hard all year and will this weekend. We’ll get our No. 43 Smithfield Ford running how we need it and, hopefully, bring home another Top 20 finish.”

At Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama on October 23, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Talladega Superspeedway Race Report

October 24, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Talladega 500 Race Report
Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega 500 Race Results: 

1: Joey Logano
8: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Richard Petty Motorsports returned to the 2.66-mile track of Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Both cars showed speed in the draft in practice before Sunday’s 500 mile race.  Aric Almirola ran in the Top 20 for the majority of the race and used a late-race charge during a green-white-checkered finish to score his first Top-10 finish of the season, crossing the finishline in eighth.

Almirola’s Top-10 finish marks Richard Petty Motorsports 122nd Top 10 finishes.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Superspeedway racing is certainly one of Aric Almirola’s fortes. With a win in both the Cup Series and the XFINITY Series at Superspeedways, Almirola knows how to work the draft and move through the field. He showed his strengths at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend when he drove his way to and eighth-place finish, the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team’s best finish of the season.

Starting in 26th place, Almirola quickly jumped into the Top 20. Running the middle lane for the entire first run of the race, he made his way as high as sixth place. When it came time for the first pit stop under caution, Almirola reported that the car was tight when running in the back of the pack but drove well otherwise. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for a wedge adjustment to help with the handling.

He restarted in the 19th position and got comfortable in the top lane, working with teammate Brian Scott during the first portion of the run. The race stayed green for 68 laps, and all of the cars spread out to run single file for the majority of the lengthy green-flag run. Almirola remained settled in the Top 20 and didn’t make too many aggressive moves in order to avoid the usual chaos that breaks out during Superspeedway racing.

Almirola’s final pit stop came during a Lap 146 caution. Blickensderfer called for a two-man fuel stop to pack the No. 43 Smithfield Ford full of fuel and gave it new right-side tires. Almirola was two laps to the good on fuel to finish the race without another stop but needed to save fuel whenever possible in case of an overtime situation. He ended up being shuffled to the back of the field during the final 30 laps of the race, falling as far back as 26th place, but he used his experience to methodically work his way back to the front. When the green flag dropped for the green-white-checkered finish, Almirola was in 14th place. With good information from Spotter Joel Edmonds and aggressive moves, Almirola crossed the finishline in the eighth position. His first Top-10 finish in the 2016 season.

“This is definitely great momentum for our race team,” said Almirola. “It’s been a challenging year for us, but we’re working hard to get back to scoring consistent Top-10 and Top-15 finishes. I knew going into the race today that my No. 43 Smithfield Ford ran best in the top and middle lanes, but it was a matter of making sure I was in whichever lane was moving fastest at the time. I had a great spotter helping me out, and I was able to make the moves that I needed to, to be there at the end. Two Top-10 finishes is awesome for Richard Petty Motorsports; I couldn’t be more proud of how hard our teams worked.”

At Richmond International Speedway in Richmond, Virginia on September 9, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Talladega Super Speedway Race Advance

October 20, 2016

“Aric Almirola Ready to Return to Superspeedway Racing
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Prepared to Run Up Front


WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

The last time Aric Almirola went superspeedway racing, he left Daytona International Speedway with a XFINITY Series win and a Top-15 finish in the Sprint Cup Series. With a win in both Cup and XFINITY, superspeedways are tracks that Almirola has proved to excel. During the season’s first visit to Talladega, Almirola ran with the leaders but was taken out in a late-race accident and finished in 27th place. Returning this weekend, he will look to once again run up front in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford and score the strong finish that he missed out on in the spring.

Almirola has 13 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega Superspeedway. He scored his best finish of 10th place in the spring race of 2013. For the fall race of that same season, Almirola earned his best starting spot when he started first.

APPEARANCES

Fans will have the opportunity to see Almirola when he judges the Whole Hog Challenge at the Smithfield Display in Talladega Superspeedway’s Fan Midway. Pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat eight Smithfield ribs the fastest. The winner, crowned by Almirola, will move on to participate in the final Whole Hog Challenge Championship in Miami at the end of the season.

When: Sunday, October 23, 10:15 – 10:45 AM
Where: Smithfield Display, Talladega Superspeedway

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“Talladega is very stressful, but we get used to it. It’s part of the sport. We go there twice a year, and we know what to expect when we get there. We also go to Daytona twice, but they’re very different tracks. The cars don’t need to handle as well at Talladega; handling really comes into play at Daytona. But, at Talladega, it’s all about having a really fast car and drafting well. The whole weekend leading up to the race is actually pretty relaxed and stress free compared to most weekends. Then, when we show up to race Sunday, it starts to get pretty intense. But, for the most part, it’s a good weekend. I always enjoy superspeedway racing, and I’ve been pretty successful at it. So I’m ready to get our No. 43 Smithfield Ford down there.”

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

Kansas Speedway Race Advance

October 12, 2016

Aric Almirola Heads Back to Kansas with Renewed Confidence
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Showing Progress in Final 10 Races

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

After two finishes just outside of the Top 15 in both Loudon and Dover, Aric Almirola brought the No. 43 Smithfield Ford home in 15th place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Just like Charlotte, Kansas Speedway is an intermediate mile-and-a-half track. With a Top-20 finish at Kansas earlier this season, Almirola is hoping that momentum and notes from Charlotte will benefit the team heading into the weekend. The team’s recent changes to improve on-track performance are starting to settle in and the progress is beginning to show. Even though the No. 43 Smithfield Ford is not in The Chase, the last 10 races are a great opportunity for Almirola and the team to score strong finishes and work toward race wins.

Almirola has nine Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway. He has tied his best finish of eighth in the spring races of 2013 and 2014. Almirola led 69 laps in 2012 to almost win but was taken out of the race with a blown tire.

 

APPEARANCES

Almirola will be at the Ford Performance display on Sunday morning answering fans’ questions. Be sure you’re there with your questions ready!

When: Sunday, October 16, 10:45 – 11:00 AM
Where: Ford Performance Display, Kansas Speedway Fan Midway

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“I think that Kansas is starting to get back to what it used to be before the repave. Now when we show up, cars are moving all over the track. When they first repaved Kansas, the grove was right there on the bottom, on the white line. It was one groove but still very fast. Now with the weathering of the track and the tires that Goodyear has been bringing, we’ve been moving around a lot. We’ve been able to run the middle of the racetrack. And, sometimes towards the end of the race, it gets all the way up to the wall. It’s really fun to run that track now that it seems to be transitioning back to the old style of Kansas. Mile-and-a-half tracks have been a struggle for us this year, but we did really well in Charlotte last weekend. I think we’ve made good progress with our intermediate-track program, so I’m looking forward to taking our No. 43 Smithfield Ford out there to see what we can do.”

At Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 9, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Charlotte Motor Speedway Race Report

October 12, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Bank of America 500 Race Report
Charlotte Motor Speedway

Bank of America 500 Race Results: 
1: Jimmie Johnson
15: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Hurricane Matthew put a damper on the weekend at NASCAR’s home track as the Bank of America 500 was postponed to Sunday afternoon. The weather cancelled all on-track activity on Friday and pushed back the start of the originally-scheduled Saturday night race. With weather out of the area, the 500-mile race was a battle for both Richard Petty Motorsports teams. Aric Almirola brought home a 15th-place finish in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford after two consecutive weeks of finishing just outside on the Top 15. Brian Scott overcame a tight-handling No. 44 Jacob Companies Ford and heavy damage from an accident that broke out in front of him to finish in 22nd place.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

The No. 43 Smithfield Ford started the Bank of America 500 in 33rd place after battling tight conditions during practice on Thursday. Aric Almirola took off fast at the drop of the green flag. By Lap 6, he had gained eight positions to be in 25th place. The Competition Caution came out at Lap 25, and Almirola brought the Ford Fusion to pit road for four tires, a wedge adjustment and additional grill tape. A couple laps into the next run, Almirola began reporting that the car was extremely loose and hard to get a handle on. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called Almirola to pit road during the following caution on Lap 63 for big adjustments that included dropping the left-side trackbar.

Almirola continued to struggle with the car’s handling and was one lap down when a caution came halfway through the race. Wanting an opportunity to get back on the lead lap, Almirola stayed out and took the Wavearound. He restarted in 19th place, back on the lead lap. Not catching a quick caution, the team came to pit road on Lap 184 to get four tires and a wedge adjustment. Pitting outside of the leaders’ pit sequence, Almirola was two laps down. Luck came with the fall of the next caution flag on Lap 229 just as the leaders had finished their green-flag stops. Almirola had cycled back to only one lap down.

The No. 43 Smithfield Ford was still a handful for Almirola, but he was able to keep it under control and maintain his position on the track. On Lap 254, the caution flag flew once again and the team decided to take the Wavearound with less than 30 laps on that set of tires. Restarting on the lead lap in 20th place, an immediate accident at the front of the field brought out the red flag and gave Almirola the opportunity get back on the same pit sequence as the leaders.

Almirola restarted the final stretch of the race in 15th place and on the lead lap. The best the car had been all day, Almirola fought to finish strong for the team. When the checkered flag flew, Almirola brought home a 15th place finish.

“Man, what a crazy day in Charlotte,” said Almirola. “We had a lot of work to do before the race to get our No. 43 Smithfield Ford handling how we needed it to. For most of the race, the car was just as loose as it could be and difficult to drive. We found ourselves a couple of laps down because of it. But, my team never gave up and got us back on the lead lap. It was handling the best it had all day, and I was able to make valuable passes there at the end to get myself into the Top 15. We’re taking as much as we can from these last 10 races of the season, and I’m proud of the results we’ve shown. I’m ready to get to Kansas next week and continue scoring solid finishes.”

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