August 8, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Race Report
Watkins Glen International
Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Results:
1: Denny Hamlin
27: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
NASCAR headed to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York this weekend, road course racing at Watkins Glen International. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford and the No. 44 Shaw’s, Shore Lodge Ford both fought with loose-handling race cars throughout the weekend and the teams worked hard to prepare for race day. But, after battling hard all afternoon to move through the field, both Almirola and Scott saw their days spoiled by late-race accidents. Scott finished in 25th place, and Almirola finished in the 27th position.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
It was a full day of fighting through adversity for the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team at Watkins Glen International. After rolling off in the 34th position, Aric Almirola quickly started to move through the field. By the time the first caution came on Lap 14, he was in 27th place with a car that was loose in the s-turns but handled well everywhere else. Because the team wouldn’t lose much track position by coming down pit road, Crew Chief Trent Owens gave the Ford Fusion four new tires and fuel. He restarted in the 33rd position.
Almirola patiently worked his way up into the 26th position. He was there when bad luck struck for the first time, and he sustained front-end damage in an accident on Lap 58. With a caved-in nose and bowed hood, Almirola made two stops on pit road. The first was to take four fresh tires and assess the damage, and the second stop gave the team time to seal the hood. He returned to the track in 33rd place, on the lead lap.
Almirola reported that the No. 43 Smithfield Ford was tighter in the s-turns because of the damage but felt good everywhere else. Almirola worked through the field and was in 29th place when he was once again collected in the wreckage of an accident. The hood was knocked around more, but because he could still see through the windshield, Owens kept him on track. However, Almirola found himself with nowhere to go when spinning cars brought out the caution on Lap 85, and the damage required a visit to pit road. The team beat the hood back down and cut pieces of the car away from the wheels to allow Almirola to finish the final laps of the race. Overcoming the damage from three separate incidents, Almirola was able to bring the No. 43 Smithfield Ford home in 27th place and on the lead lap.
“What a day in Watkins Glen,” said Almirola. “Road-course racing can be rough, and we saw that today, getting caught up in three separate accidents not of our own making. It definitely wasn’t the day that we set out to have, but my team fought through it and we worked with what we had in front of us. I hate that we couldn’t get the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion a better finish. I’d start making a run through the field and either a caution would come out or I was unfortunately part of the caution. But, we’ll take advantage of the upcoming off weekend to regroup and prepare for Bristol. It’s a good track for our team, and I’m looking forward to heading back.”