October 24, 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports
Talladega 500 Race Report
Talladega 500 Race Results:
1: Joey Logano
8: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Richard Petty Motorsports returned to the 2.66-mile track of Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Both cars showed speed in the draft in practice before Sunday’s 500 mile race. Aric Almirola ran in the Top 20 for the majority of the race and used a late-race charge during a green-white-checkered finish to score his first Top-10 finish of the season, crossing the finishline in eighth.
Almirola’s Top-10 finish marks Richard Petty Motorsports 122nd Top 10 finishes.
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Superspeedway racing is certainly one of Aric Almirola’s fortes. With a win in both the Cup Series and the XFINITY Series at Superspeedways, Almirola knows how to work the draft and move through the field. He showed his strengths at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend when he drove his way to and eighth-place finish, the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team’s best finish of the season.
Starting in 26th place, Almirola quickly jumped into the Top 20. Running the middle lane for the entire first run of the race, he made his way as high as sixth place. When it came time for the first pit stop under caution, Almirola reported that the car was tight when running in the back of the pack but drove well otherwise. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for a wedge adjustment to help with the handling.
He restarted in the 19th position and got comfortable in the top lane, working with teammate Brian Scott during the first portion of the run. The race stayed green for 68 laps, and all of the cars spread out to run single file for the majority of the lengthy green-flag run. Almirola remained settled in the Top 20 and didn’t make too many aggressive moves in order to avoid the usual chaos that breaks out during Superspeedway racing.
Almirola’s final pit stop came during a Lap 146 caution. Blickensderfer called for a two-man fuel stop to pack the No. 43 Smithfield Ford full of fuel and gave it new right-side tires. Almirola was two laps to the good on fuel to finish the race without another stop but needed to save fuel whenever possible in case of an overtime situation. He ended up being shuffled to the back of the field during the final 30 laps of the race, falling as far back as 26th place, but he used his experience to methodically work his way back to the front. When the green flag dropped for the green-white-checkered finish, Almirola was in 14th place. With good information from Spotter Joel Edmonds and aggressive moves, Almirola crossed the finishline in the eighth position. His first Top-10 finish in the 2016 season.
“This is definitely great momentum for our race team,” said Almirola. “It’s been a challenging year for us, but we’re working hard to get back to scoring consistent Top-10 and Top-15 finishes. I knew going into the race today that my No. 43 Smithfield Ford ran best in the top and middle lanes, but it was a matter of making sure I was in whichever lane was moving fastest at the time. I had a great spotter helping me out, and I was able to make the moves that I needed to, to be there at the end. Two Top-10 finishes is awesome for Richard Petty Motorsports; I couldn’t be more proud of how hard our teams worked.”