September 6, 2016
Aric Almirola Heads to Richmond in Last Bid to Make The Chase
for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Must Win to Be Chase Contender
WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team head to Richmond International Raceway with one more opportunity to make it into The Chase. Inside of the Top 30 in the Championship Point Standings, Almirola is eligible to compete in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship but must win to move on. Richmond is the last opportunity to win a race before the sport’s playoffs begin. The team’s strongest run of the 2015 season came at last year’s September race in Richmond. Almirola ran up front and had a shot to win the race but came home in fourth place, just barely missing the cutoff for The Chase by one spot. Almirola went on to finish the season 17th in the Championship Point Standings, the highest-finishing non-Chase driver.
Almirola has nine starts at Richmond International Raceway. He has three Top-10 finishes at the three-quarter-mile track. His best finish of fourth place came last year in the regular-season finale.
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 Richmond International Raceway’s Fan Midway. Pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat eight Smithfield ribs 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, September 10, 4:45 – 5:15 PM
Where: Smithfield Display, Richmond International Raceway Fan Midway
On Saturday afternoon, Almirola and Petty will also meet with fans who purchase a special ticket packet from the track. Richmond International Raceway and Smithfield are offering a ticket package that gives fans grandstand seating for the Cup race on Saturday and grants admission to a private screening of NBC’s “Building 43” that will be followed by a Q&A with Petty and Almirola. One fan from the screening will be selected to ride around the race track with Petty in the replica 1967 No. 43 Plymouth Belvedere built during the production of the movie. Purchasing information can be found on the track’s website, www.rir.com.
ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER
“We raced at Richmond in the daylight back in the spring, so there’s not much that we’ll be able to take from that race and apply to this weekend. Richmond is so drastically different from day to night. Of all the tracks we go to, I’d say Charlotte is the most drastic from day to night, but Richmond is a strong second. We practice during the day there and try to get a good feel on our No. 43 Smithfield Ford, but we all know that if your car is driving well and you’re happy with it in practice then it probably won’t stay that way once the sun goes down and the lights come on. It always makes for an interesting race. But, even though we can’t bring much from spring to fall, we know that Richmond is still Richmond. It gets really slick, and you’ve got to have a lot of forward drive to be able to pass cars. There will be a lot of pressure during this trip to Richmond because it’s our last chance to make The Chase, but I’ve seen this team deliver under this kind of pressure before. So I’m confident that we’ll go out there and fight hard.”
September 6, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Southern 500 Race Report
Southern 500 Race Results:
1: Martin Truex Jr.
32: Aric Almirola, No. 43 STP Ford
Fans and teams waited out Tropical Storm Hermine with track activity cancelled on Friday. Teams and drivers showed up on Sunday in their best 1970s getup for the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway. Aric Almirola sported a Richard Petty inspired curly fro and throwback STP firesuit before getting behind the wheel of the 1979 replica STP Ford Fusion. Almirola battled the handling throughout before an on-track incident relegated him to a 32nd-place finish.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 STP Ford
The No. 43 STP Ford team spent the weekend at Darlington Raceway throwing back to 1979. “The King” Richard Petty won five races and his final championship that year, so it was only appropriate that Aric Almirola and the team honor that season’s paint scheme for #NASCARThrowback. Almirola rolled off 26th in his throwback car and quickly moved up six positions in just 10 laps. Almirola continued to turn laps until a green-flag pit stop on Lap 48. Crew Chief Trent Owens made adjustments to give Almirola more side-bite and fix the loose-handling car. During the green-flag pit cycle, Almirola went down a lap.
Pit strategy had Almirola in a position to take the Wavearound during a Lap 115 caution and got the No. 43 STP Ford back on the lead lap. He restarted in 20th place, the last car on the lead lap. He continued to battle a loose car and eventually went two laps down to the leaders. Owens made aggressive changes with wedge, spring rubbers and packers throughout the last half of the race to get the Ford Fusion handling how Almirola needed.
With 17 laps to go, Almirola was in the 20th position and down two lap, but there weren’t any cars only one lap down. Only one position out of the Free Pass position, Almirola knew he needed to make moves to get there. Battling for both 19th place and the Lucky Dog spot, the STP and the No. 15 made contact and sent the No. 43 Ford into the outside wall. The damage was too severe to continue, and Almirola’s night was over. He finished in the 32nd position.
“This definitely wasn’t how we pictured our night ending,” said Almirola. “We’ve had a great time this weekend honoring the 1979 season, and I really wanted to get STP a solid finish with such an awesome car. But, we had a Top-20 finish within reach there at the end. I thought I’d be given more room trying to make that pass, but that’s just racing sometimes. Now, it’s time to get ready for Richmond and roll as many dice as we can to get into The Chase.”
September 2, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports and STP Throw Back in Darlington
No. 43 STP Ford Paint Scheme Replicates Colors of 1979
WEEKEND STATISTICS AND NOTES
Darlington Raceway invited teams to participate in a weekend of nostalgia with throwback paint schemes. Richard Petty Motorsports took on the challenge and replicated the paint scheme of the 1979 No. 43 STP car driven by “The King” Richard Petty. Petty won five of 31 races and his seventh championship in 1979 running the iconic paint scheme. The team will dive fully into the throwback theme. Crewmen grew “Darlington beards”, Aric Almirola will have a revamped firesuit, and we’re once again busting out the red pants for the team!
This will be the second primary paint scheme of the year for STP. The motor oil and automotive additive company also sponsored the No. 43 Ford Fusion during the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway earlier this year. The 2016 season marks the 44th year of partnership between STP and Richard Petty. To honor the partnership with the Petty family, STP raised money throughout the summer for Victory Junction. Through STP’s “Giving Kids an Ultra Summer” program, $.43 for every bottle of STP Ultra 5-in-1 Fuel System Cleaner sold from June 1 through August 31 will be donated to the camp. The amount raised will be revealed in Darlington with the dollar value being displayed on the rear quarter panel of the No. 43 STP Ford.
Almirola has four previous Sprint Cup Series starts at the famed racetrack. His best finish of 11th place came last season during the inaugural throwback weekend. In 2014, he earned his best starting position when he started on the inside lane of the second row in third place and broke the current track record.
Almirola will join other Sprint Cup Series drivers in Sunday’s NASCAR Youth Autograph Session. The kids-only autograph session will be held in the Raceway Rascals tent in the Darlington Raceway Kids Zone on Sunday afternoon. Wristbands will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 12:00 PM at the Raceway Rascals tent.
When: Sunday, September 4, 2:00 – 2:30 PM
Where: Raceway Rascals Tent, Kids Zone in Darlington Raceway Fan Midway
ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER
“It’s really fun to run a throwback scheme with STP. It’s an iconic sponsor in the sport, and Richard Petty and STP have done great things together. They created a brand for the No. 43 car with that Petty blue and day-glow red. Having the opportunity to go run that scheme at Darlington will be very special. We ran really well during last year’s throwback weekend, and I think this year’s race will be very similar. Any time you take a lower-downforce package to a track that’s very narrow and tricky, you’re going to see a lot of wrecks and cautions. The racetrack is aging and getting slick. There’s really only room for two cars and, most of the time, just one. So, it’s definitely a place where mayhem is easily found. But, our team is up for the challenge. We’re looking forward to loading up our awesome No. 43 STP Ford and getting it on track for everyone to see.”
August 29, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Pure Michigan 400 Race Report
Michigan International Speedway
Pure Michigan 400 Race Results:
1: Kyle Larson
25: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Teams headed to Michigan International Speedway for the second race in the Irish Hills. Both Richard Petty Motorsports teams struggled finding the right combination to get their Ford Fusions handling well on the two-mile race track. They worked hard throughout the weekend to get a better handle. Aric Almirola battled a loose No. 43 Smithfield Ford for most of the weekend. A pit road penalty late in the race relegated the team to a 25th-place finish.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
The No. 43 Smithfield Ford team unloaded in the Irish Hills of Michigan with the proposed 2017 aerodynamics rules package. The Ford Fusion was loose in all three practice sessions, and the team worked hard to tighten up the car to Aric Almirola’s liking for the Pure Michigan 400. At the drop of the green flag, Almirola took off tight and quickly turned loose. He was especially loose in the entry into Turn 3. Crew Chief Trent Owens took advantage of the Competition Caution on Lap 20 and brought Almirola down pit road for big changes. He called for four new tires with air pressure adjustments and a wedge adjustment.
Almirola continued to build loose throughout long green-flag runs. He consistently provided feedback on the car’s handling to help the team formulate a plan. Almirola was up the 22nd position and catching other cars on Lap 89 when he was passed by the leader and went a lap down.
The main focus for the remainder of the race was to tighten up the No. 43 Smithfield Ford and get back on the lead lap. Almirola’s feedback continued to be a loose condition around the majority of the track and that he was losing rear grip a few laps after the start of a new run. The team hit a bump in the charge for the Lucky Dog when they received a pass-through penalty for an uncontrolled tire during a green-flag stop on Lap 159, sending the Ford Fusion an additional lap down. Almirola battled with the cars on his lap at the end of the race to gain as many spots as possible and took the checkered in the 25th position.
“This 2017 rules package has been a tough one for us to wrap our arms around,” said Almirola. “We struggled with handling from the start of the weekend in race trim. We just always seemed to be too loose. But, we’ll continue working with the package and comparing notes with other races we’ve run with it and keep working to find a way it works for our team. Next week is going to be a completely different style of racing when we go to Darlington, a one-mile short track. So we’ll wipe the slate clean and head to a track where we’ve done well in the past.”
August 24, 2016
Aric Almirola Heads to Michigan with Momentum after Top-15 Finish
No. 43 Smithfield Ford Returns to Michigan International Speedway
WEEKEND STISTICS AND NOTES
This past weekend, Aric Almirola finished in 14th place in the No. 43 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford. Almirola had a strong race, fighting back from being a lap down to finish in the Top 15 on the lead lap. The team will use that momentum rolling into Michigan, a track the team struggled to get a handle on earlier in the year. The first Michigan race of the 2016 season was the first time the proposed 2017 aerodynamics package had been tested in a points race setting. With the confidence boost from a strong race at Bristol and lessons learned from trying out the package earlier this year, the team is ready to head back to the two-mile race track.
Almirola has nine previous starts in the Sprint Cup Series in the Irish Hills of Michigan. His best finish of 14th came from the August race last season. He scored six Top-20 finishes at Michigan International Speedway.
ALMIROLA WEEKEND CHATTER
“I’m looking forward to another opportunity to race this new 2017 aero package at Michigan this weekend. It’ll be beneficial for us to get more time with it to see how we can make it work best for our team moving into next season. Michigan itself is an interesting track to race at because it’s a predominantly bottom-lane track. It hasn’t widened out much with the repave they did a few years ago. You can run two-wide there, but the bottom is very much preferred. It’s a challenge to make the top work. Hopefully as the new pavement ages, we’ll get back to being able to run all over the track because it was definitely fun. With that style of racing and the new package, our team struggled to get a handle on our No. 43 Smithfield Ford the last time we were there. But, we learned a lot during the June race that we can apply to our strategy this weekend and make it work for us.”