April 25, 2017
Richard Petty Motorsports
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Race Report
Texas Motor Speedway
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Results:
1: Jimmie Johnson
18: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams headed to Texas Motor Speedway to make their first laps on the newly paved and configured 1.5-mile track. Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team were fast off the truck and showed speed in practice. Almirola started the race in 18th and anticipated a good finish. Unfortunately, another car ran into the back of the No. 43 on the first lap and caused left-rear damage. The car did not handle the same, so the team utilized a Lap 10 caution to fix the damage.
The stop helped but had Almirola in the 35th spot at the restart. He worked up to 30th by the Competition Caution and the team went to work on a tight-handling Ford Fusion. A quick stop gave the No. 43 the 27th spot on the restart. Almirola reported the car felt high on the track in the front, so at the end of Stage 1, the team adjusted the height of the splitter during a four-tire pit stop. This helped the car, and Almirola worked from the 25th position into the Top 20 by the Lap 121 caution.
This time, Almirola just looked for some lateral grip. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. The Smithfield Ford restarted 21st, and Almirola methodically picked up spots. He drove into the 17th spot when the caution came out with just seven laps remaining in Stage 2. Blickensderfer called the No. 43 to pit road for service and elected to stay out at the end of Stage 2. This gave Almirola the eighth starting spot for the final stage. He ran in the Top 10 for the first 20 laps of the stage, but then radioed that he hit some debris in the right-front. He fell back to 18th while battling a inconsistent car.
The team pit to discover that the right-front crush panel was damaged from the debris and caused the car to be inconsistent. It took 70 laps before a caution came out to allow the team to fix the damage. With 35 laps remaining and anticipating more caution, the team elected to get the Wavearound and return to the lead lap for the restart. Unfortunately, the race went green until the end. Almirola battled his car up to an 18th-place finish.
“Today was extremely disappointing,” said Almirola. “We had such a good race car all weekend and should have had a much better finish. We got hit from behind on the first lap which really set us back. But this team fought hard, and we got back to where we needed to be. Drew (Blickensderfer) made a good call to pit near the end of Stage 2 to get us in the Top 10. I felt really good about our chances of staying up front and getting a Top 10, Top 15 finish. But bad luck struck again. We hit debris with the right, front and didn’t have a good chance to fix it. After that, the car was so inconsistent and hard to drive. I’m very optimistic about how well we ran most of the weekend; just really disappointed we didn’t have a finish to show for it.”
April 6, 2017
Almirola Looks for Bigger Finish at Newly Paved and Configured Texas Track
No. 43 Smithfield Team Encouraged by Steady Improvement
WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES
Encouraged by steady improvement of the intermediate track program, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team are ready to tackle the new pavement and configuration of Texas Motor Speedway. Throughout the season, the team worked to improve speed off the truck and feels as they improve off the truck, they are in a better position to race in the Top 15 during the race. The team will have one practice Friday morning before qualifying on the new track and will continue to improve the Fusion’s handling for a good run on Sunday.
Almirola made 12 Monster Energy Series starts in his career. His best start (third) and finish (seventh) came in 2013. Last season, green-flag racing hindered the team from improving the car’s handling resulting in 24th and 22nd place finishes in the spring and fall races, respectively.
As part of the #KINGs80th celebration, Richard Petty and his son Kyle will participate in a feast fit for “The King” at a Speedway Children’s Charity hosted dinner. Tickets are available for the dinner, which includes a question and answer session with both Pettys and NASCAR on FOX pit reporter Jamie Little. Proceeds of the dinner will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, Petty Family Foundation and Victory Junction.
When: Friday, April 7, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Speedway Club
Tickets: Call 817-215-8434
ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER
“So far this season, we have seen improvement in our intermediate track program. I’m looking forward to seeing more improvement this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see how the cars handle on the new service and with a new configuration. It will be important for us to unload with a fast car, so we can tweak it to the new track. I always like going to Texas. It’s a fun place and a fun race track. Hopefully, the racing will continue to be good with the new surface, and we can get a solid finish this weekend.”
April 4, 2017
Richard Petty Motorsports
STP 500 Race Report
Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
STP 500 Results:
1: Brad Keselowski
18: Aric Almirola, No. 43 STP Ford
It was another popular return of the STP color scheme to the No. 43 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Aric Almirola raced the famed STP No. 43 to an 18th-place finish in Sunday’s STP 500 at the historic Virginia oval.
Rain washed out qualifying on Friday and Almirola and the team started 18th. During the first Stage of the race, Almirola had a fast STP Ford. He moved up to 15th before losing some grip. The team made several adjustments and ended the Stage in 16th.
As Stage 2 began, the team felt good about making more gains. And, Almirola was able to maintain his position for a while, but lack of forward drive slipped the team back to 25th. Almirola raced back to 23rd at the end of the Stage.
The final stage, Almirola and the team dug deep to make a Top-10 run. Through various adjustments, Almirola found more speed. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer also gave Almirola track position and the No. 43 STP Ford raced with the leaders. At the end, the lack of grip didn’t allow the team to stay in the Top-10, but finish in 18th.
Almirola is now 17th in the championship standings after Sunday’s race.
“We felt that we were going to be better,” said Almirola. “We had a fast car after final practice, and started off pretty good today. We didn’t have the grip to give us that forward drive we needed throughout the race. That hurt the most. But, we were able to make good calls to get some track position and finish 18th.”
March 30, 2017
STP 500 True Test of Short Track Program for Almirola and No. 43 Team
Iconic Sponsor Returns to No. 43 STP Ford
WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES
The STP 500 will be the true test of the No. 43 team’s short track program. Almirola and team felt good about the program at Phoenix but know that Martinsville is a different beast. Hard on the car and its brakes, the No. 43 STP team is ready to take the paper-clip shaped track.
Almirola has 16 starts at Martinsville Speedway. He scored one Top-Five and three Top-10 finishes. He made his best start of third in 2008 and finish of fourth in 2012. Last season, he had an engine issue early in the race that ended the team’s day. In the fall, he finished 16th and raced in the Top 20 all day.
Fans can follow STP on social media for videos from the #STPAmericanDrive to see Almirola, Richard Petty and Dale Inman take an All American Road Trip with Steve Letarte.
Petty and Inman will do a Q&A at the Fanatics stage.
When: Sunday, April 2, 10:00 a.m.
Where: Fanatics Stage
ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER
“We raced pretty well at Phoenix but that track races like an intermediate track. Martinsville is a true short track that is hard on the car and heavy on the brakes. We’ve had some good runs there in the past. Our main focus this off-season was our intermediate track program, so I’m excited to see how we unload this week and am ready to work hard to get what we need to get a good finish this weekend.”
March 29, 2017
Richard Petty Motorsports
Auto Club 400 Race Report
Auto Club Speedway
Auto Club 400 Results:
1: Kyle Larson
19: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford was good off the truck in California, but a mishap in qualifying gave Almirola the 31st starting spot for the Auto Club 400. When the green flag dropped, Almirola jumped up 10 spots to 21st. The car was tight in the middle of the corner in the first run. Almirola came in for a green-flag pit stop on Lap 32 and pit for four tires and a wedge adjustment. He finished Stage 1 in 21st and said the car was much better in the exit of the corner but still needed more overall grip. The team made another four-tire pit stop and wedge adjustment.
Stage 2 went green on Lap 67 with Almirola in the 21st spot, and by Lap 91, the team pit for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford cycled into the 20th spot and in the free pass position. Before the end of Stage 2, Almirola found a fast line in Turns One and Two but was still working to find a fast line in Turns Three and Four. When Stage 2 was completed, Almirola raced in 20th and looked for more overall grip. The Smithfield team changed four tires and made another air pressure adjustment.
Almirola started the final stage in the 21st spot. On Lap 152, he came in for a pit stop with a wedge adjustment to help a loose condition. In the 20th spot, he radioed that the car was very bouncy on the splitter and lost down force on the car. A caution on Lap 180 allowed the team to take the Wavearound to get back on the lead lap. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford restarted 22nd and on the lead lap. A quick yellow was just what the team needed, so Almirola came down pit road to assess the problem with the bouncy splitter and lost down force. The team made a four-tire pit stop and found some splitter damage. The team taped up the splitter to try to help the car’s handling in the final laps. A caution on Lap 192 allowed the team to make another stop for fresh tires, a benefit at Auto Club Speedway. Almirola restarted 20th and drove up to 17th. Unfortunately, the car got into the wall in Turn Four and finished 19th.
“We struggled,” said Almirola. “We just don’t have the overall grip and speed in our cars, but we’re working hard. Everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports has been working really hard. It’s a big improvement from Atlanta. We gained on it when we went to Vegas, and then, we’ve kind of gotten flat and stagnant. We haven’t been making as many gains and strides since Atlanta, so we still have some work to do. I’m proud of the effort; we just have to dig deep. We have to keep working hard and get speed and more grip in our car so we can go and compete.”