Almirola Finishes 14th at Richmond
Smithfield Ford Driver Remains Three Points Ahead of Playoff Cutoff
Date: Sept. 11, 2021
Event: Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders (Round 28 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway(.75-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/155 laps/165 laps)
Start/Finish: 9th / 14th (Running, completed 399 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (2,056 points, three points ahead of top-12 cutoff)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Aric Almirola started ninth and finished 10th, earning one bonus point.
● Almirola said his Smithfield Ford turned good in the middle of the turns but struggled with drive off the turns.
● The No. 10 team radioed that Almirola was the second fastest car on track before the competition was called.
● He pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to restart ninth.
● The Smithfield driver raced to eighth before a caution was called on lap 42.
● Almirola restarted seventh. His drive off of the corners continued to affect his speed, causing him to fall outside of the top-10.
● Almirola raced back inside the top-10 before the stage ended.
● He pitted under caution for four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments and gained two spots on pit road.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-235):
● Almirola started eighth and finished eighth, earning three bonus points.
● The Smithfield driver continued to battle drive off of the turns and fell outside of the top-10.
● Almirola made the pass for 10th on lap 131. He pitted a lap later under green for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments.
● When green-flag pit stops cycled through, Almirola gained a position and was scored ninth.
● Almirola raced to eighth by lap 166.
● He pitted under green for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments on lap 180.
● Almirola was scored sixth when green-flag pit stops cycled through.
● He pitted at the end of the stage for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to improve the handling.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 236-400):
● Almirola started seventh and finished 14th.
● The Smithfield driver was scored ninth after a caution on lap 251.
● Almirola continued to battle handling issues throughout the run. He pitted under green on lap 295 for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments.
● As Almirola exited pit road he reported a loose wheel and was forced to pit again, putting him a lap down in 20th.
● Almirola drove to 16th before pitting under green with 54 laps to go.
● He drove the No. 10 Ford to 14th by lap 361 and held his position inside the top-15 to the checkered flag.
● Almirola earned his eighth top-15 of the season and his eighth top-15 in 19 career starts at Richmond.
● This was Almirola’s third straight top-15 at Richmond. He finished sixth in the series’ prior visit to the track in April and eighth last September.
● Martin Truex Jr. won the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders to score his 31st career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his third at Richmond. His margin over second-place Denny Hamlin was 1.417 seconds.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 30 laps.
● Only nine of the 37 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders finished on the lead lap.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield/Tuesday’s Children Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We didn’t have a race-winning car, but I thought we could have run fifth to eighth, so I’m a little frustrated but it’s a team sport and we’ll go to Bristol and keep fighting.I think we’re competitive. We’re in the hunt. We had a loose lugnut and I had to pit again under green, and then got us behind. I don’t know where we finished. I think we finished 14th instead of sixth or seventh, which is about where we were running, so frustrating that we gave up those points. This situation we can’t really give up any points. It would have been a lot nicer to go to Bristol plus 12 instead of plus three or four, but it is what it is. It’s no big deal. We’ve got to put our head down and go race. It’s the same situation. We’ve just got to go racing and score as many points as we can. You just hate to give up six, seven, eight points.”
Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):
1. Denny Hamlin (2,127 points) 1 win
2. Martin Truex Jr. (2,113 points) 1 win
3. Kyle Larson (2,151 points) +88 points
4. Joey Logano (2,093 points) +40 points
5. Ryan Blaney (2,081 points) +28 points
6. Kevin Harvick (2,078 points) +25 points
7. Chase Elliott (2,072 points) +19 points
8. Christopher Bell (2,070 points) +17 points
9. Brad Keselowski (2,066 points) +13 points
10. Kyle Busch (2,061 points) +8 points
11. Aric Almirola (2,056 points) +3 points
12. Kurt Busch (2,053 points) +0 points
13. Alex Bowman (2,053 points) -0 points
14. Tyler Reddick (2,048 points) -5 points
15. William Byron (2,035 points) -18 points
16. Michael McDowell (2,015 points) -38 points
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 18, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.