Aric Almirola started the 400-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway from the pole position. Almirola finished the Coca-Cola 600 in the 16th position. Here is a recap of his night:
Almirola earned his first pole in his 47th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and first points race in a Sprint Cup car at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend.
Almirola and teammate Marcos Ambrose, who started on the outside pole, traded positions for the lead multiple times in the opening laps of the race, allowing each to gain a bonus point.
The team stayed in the top 10 for the first 46 laps of the race, despite reports from Almirola that the car was tight on landing and that it was sliding the front tires.
Crew Chief Mike Ford made air-pressure and chassis adjustments over the first two pit stops on Laps 46 and 89 to help with the car’s handling in an effort to return Almirola to the front.
The day-into-night race brought changing track conditions over the course of the event, and Almirola found himself battling a very loose No. 43 Ford Fusion in the middle portion of the race, affecting his lap times and setting him back to 12th position.
The team was poised to battle back in the final 75 laps of the race after improving the handling of their car and restarting in 12th position after a two-tire stop under caution; but a long green-flag run for the remainder of the race made it challenging to re-climb the leaderboard.
Almirola crossed the line in 16th for his sixth top-20 finish of the season.
The top-20 finish allowed Almirola to jump two positions in the driver point standings and he now sits in 19th heading into Dover next week.
Almirola on the Race: “I’m really proud of our team for what we did this weekend. We earned the pole and we showed improvement in our end result. Overall we had a really good Air Force Ford Fusion, but we had a couple runs in the middle of the race where we were too loose and we lost some time on the track. But the guys on pit road did a great job. We’ll take 16th. It’s not a win, but it’s definitely an improvement. And that’s the one thing we keep talking about – improving. And if we can keep doing that all year and building a notebook, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”