September 20, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Race Report
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Race Results:
1: Martin Truex Jr.
32: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to the Windy City for the series’ only race at Chicagoland Speedway and the kick off to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Richard Petty Motorsports teams battled the 1.5-mile speedway throughout the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday. Both teams worked hard on the handling of their cars. Aric Almirola got stuck on pit road when a caution came out and fell to the leaders. He finished 32nd in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 was a battle for Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team from the drop of the green flag. Almirola started the race at the rear of the field and had to fight his way through the field. He initially reported that the Ford Fusion was tight on exit and in traffic. Throughout the run, the car started to turn loose on entry. He went one lap down, and Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer made big changes during the first pit stop on Lap 49. A caution came out while Almirola was on pit road, and he got stuck two laps down.
The handling struggles continued for the team. The car kept up the pattern of starting tight and turning loose on both entry and exit. Blickensderfer worked with tire pressures and wedge adjustments to help Almirola. Unable to race in the preferred line with how he was handling, Almirola worked with his spotter to find other open lanes to race in and get comfortable.
Eventually finding themselves four laps down and in the 32nd position, the team worked with pit strategies to try to get laps back and improve their standing on the leaderboard. Almirola took the Wavearound during the Lap 193 caution in hopes of a quick caution, but a caution didn’t come. The team had to short pit, losing the lap they had gained back. In a race with few cautions, there were no more opportunities to take the Wavearound and advance their position. Almirola took the checkers in 32nd place and four laps down.
“It was a tough day for us out there,” said Almirola. “Drew (Blickensderfer) and the team worked hard, but we just couldn’t get it handling how we needed it. Our No. 43 Smithfield Ford would start the run really tight through the corners and then would transition into loose on entry and exit. We made a lot of changes throughout the day, but the car didn’t respond with better handling. But, next week we go short-track racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and it’ll be a whole different game plan.”