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.”

At Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware on October 1, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Charlotte Motor Speedway Race Advance

October 4, 2016

Aric Almirola Looking to Continue Top-20 Streak in Charlotte
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Has Momentum with Strong Runs

WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

One-mile tracks have been good to Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team over the past two weeks. With a 17th-place finish in Loudon and a 16th-place finish in Dover, Almirola is carrying momentum heading to Charlotte this weekend. Mile-and-a-half tracks have presented challenges for the No. 43 team throughout season, but the newly-restructured team is settling in and showing progress. Charlotte Motor Speedway will be a true test for the team, but it is one that Almirola and Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer are ready to take on.

Almirola has nine Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, winning the pole for his first start at the track. He has one Top-10 finish that came in the fall of the 2015 season when he finished in 10th place. In his eight XFINITY Series starts at that track, Almirola has three Top-10 finishes with a best result of fourth place in 2007.

APPEARANCES

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

When: Saturday, October 8, 3:40 – 3:55 PM
Where: Ford Performance Display, Charlotte Motor Speedway Fan Midway

Fans will have the opportunity to see both Almirola and “The King” Richard Petty when they judge the Whole Hog Challenge at the Smithfield display in Charlotte Motor 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 and Petty, will move on to participate in the final Whole Hog Challenge Championship in Miami at the end of the season.

When: Saturday, October 8, 4:00 – 4:30 PM
Where: Smithfield Display, Charlotte Motor Speedway Fan Midway

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“Charlotte is definitely a very hectic race for everyone in the garage. We always talk about how great it is to be racing at home, but, to be honest, Charlotte is typically a very busy weekend for us. A lot of our partners and sponsors come to town. We usually do a lot of fan appreciation activities around Charlotte and at our race shop. We get to be really busy around Charlotte weekend, and it actually ends up being one of the busiest weekends of the year. Then when you finally get to go racing, you have to try and get a handle on one of the most temperamental tracks on the circuit. When the sun is out, the track is hot and slick and really hard to get a hold of. When the sun goes down or if it gets just a little bit cloudy, it grips up and gets really fast. It’s extremely weather sensitive, and it’s looking like we’re going to have some crazy weather this weekend.”

At Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware on October 2, 2016. CIA Stock Photo

Dover International Speedway Race Report

October 3, 2016

Richard Petty Motorsports
Citizen Soldier 400 Race Report
Dover International Speedway

Citizen Soldier 400 Race Results:
1: Martin Truex Jr.
16: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford

Richard Petty Motorsports teams competed in the Citizen Soldier 400 at the “Monster Mile” of Dover International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Both teams made it out of the one-mile track without being bitten by the notoriously rough racetrack.

The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team raced as high as 12th on Sunday afternoon with a car that was great on restarts. Continuing the journey to turn the season around, the team brought a strong racecar to the track. A loose wheel hurt the team’s chance at a Top-15 finish, but they battled back with a gutsy fuel strategy to finish in 16th place.

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford 

After a rain-filled weekend cancelled qualifying, Aric Almirola started the Citizen Soldier 400 in 27th place. Almirola was happy with the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion from the start. It was tight on landing, but exit and entry were good. When the first caution came on Lap 35, Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer made air pressure adjustments in the left side tires but didn’t want to make any major adjustments. Almirola restarted in the 25th position and quickly made track-position gains.

When the next caution came on Lap 106, Almirola was in 17th place. The team was happy with the Ford Fusion’s restarts and handling on the long runs. When Almirola hit pit road, the team made air pressure adjustments on the right side tires this time. The right-side adjustments weren’t as helpful as the left-side changes had been, and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion’s front end wasn’t turning as well this run. But, Almirola continued to run quick lap times and race in the Top 20.

The leaders caught Almirola in 16th-place on Lap 257, putting him a lap down. One of the fastest cars one lap down, Almirola fought with his competitors for the Lucky Dog position. But, it was on Lap 300 when the fateful call came across the radio that the car had a loose left, rear wheel. Almirola gave it a few laps to see if the sensation would fade, but, it did not. He came to pit road on Lap 304 to take four new tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 18th place and three laps down. No longer on the same pit strategy as everyone else, the team had an opportunity to try and gain positions by finishing the race without stopping again for fuel. Almirola gained a lap back by staying out during a cycle of green-flag stops, and he saved enough fuel to make it to the checkers. He finished the race in 16th place and two laps down.

“We had a great No. 43 Smithfield Ford today,” said Almirola. “It was especially great on restarts, and I was moving through the field pretty well. That loose wheel killed our chances there towards the end, but Drew’s decision to try and make it on fuel from that point on was definitely the best call. We weren’t going to get back on the lead lap, but we wanted to get back as many positions as we could. We’ve been working to turn our season around, and I think we’ve hit on something. We’ve had really strong cars two weeks in a row. I’m looking forward to heading to Charlotte next week and continuing to run well.”

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

Dover International Speedway Race Advance

September 27, 2016

Aric Almirola Building on Improvements Heading to Dover
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Has Positive Momentum Leaving Loudon


WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES

With changes in the race shop and on the road, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team have been working hard to get the 2016 season turned around and begin preparations for next year. Coming off of a disappointing finish in Chicago, Almirola went to New Hampshire with high expectations after a strong run at the one-mile oval earlier in the year. With great pit strategy from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer and the team’s hard work all weekend, Almirola brought the No. 43 Smithfield Ford home in the 17th position after running in the Top-15. Looking ahead as the team gets ready for Dover, Almirola is hoping that the positive momentum will catapult them to an even stronger finish at one of his favorite tracks.

When asked what track he enjoys visiting the most, Dover International Speedway is always at the top of Almirola’s list. In his nine Sprint Cup Series starts at the track, he has three Top-10 finishes, tying his best finish of fifth place in both 2015 races. He has four XFINITY Series starts at Dover and secured his best finish of ninth place in 2011. Dover is also where Almirola scored his first career Camping World Truck Series win in 2010.

APPEARANCES

Fans will have the opportunity to see both Almirola and “The King” Richard Petty when they judge a rib-eating contest at the Smithfield display in Dover International Speedway’s Fan Midway. On Sunday morning, pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat eight Smithfield ribs the fastest. The winner will be crowned by Almirola and Petty.

When: Sunday, October 2, 11:30 – 11:45 AM
Where: Smithfield Display, Dover International Speedway Fan Midway

ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER

“Dover is wild and crazy. It’s a really cool racetrack, and the nickname ‘The Monster’ certainly fits it well. It’s a really awesome race track; I love it. I tend to run really well there. The ride that you get inside the car is unlike any other track that we go to. The straightaway is elevated from the corner so you get a roller coaster effect going down into the corners. It’s a high-banked track with lots of speed, and just the sensation of speed at Dover is unlike anywhere else that we go. I always enjoy making the trip up there. I’m looking forward to getting our No 43 Smithfield Ford out on the track and continuing the positive steps forward that we made last week in Loudon.”

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