Racing in sponsor Smithfield’s backyard, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team wanted nothing better than to have one of their best races of the season Saturday night. After a rain delay pushed the start of the race past 9:00 p.m. local time, Almirola got into the car and went to work.
The first six laps were run under the yellow flag to help dry the track, but once the green flew Almirola raced until Lap 47 for a competition caution. The opening laps of the race were a sign that the Smithfied Ford was not to the liking of Almirola. The car was very loose around the turns forcing him let off the gas way earlier than he needed. The team was in the 25th position when they came in for their first pit stop.
Crew chief Mike Ford made a chassis adjustment and air pressure change to help the handlig of the car, but Almirola could quickly tell that the changes didn’t help. He raced hard, but by Lap 100 he was back to 29th. On Lap 139 the rain came again and this time forced another lengthy delay. Almirola was able to climb from his car and discuss the handling situation with Ford. Ford then quickly began making a plan fo the rest of the night to help.
The team, through pit stop strategy, had moved up to 21st when then race went back to green and raced in the top-25 as the event moved past halfway. Still, however, the car remained loose all around.
The team made various adjustments on their next two pit stops including opening up their right-front shock on the car and also putting a rubber into the left-rear of the car. The major adjustments helped Almirola stay in the top-25, but the changes were not enough to move back toward the top-20.
Almirola finished the night in 26th and remained 22nd in the point standings. The team now prepares for Chicagoland Speedway next Sunday.
Comments from Almirola after Richmond: “I think we have to go back to the shop and look at our car and see why it was acting like it was. We had the same problem of being loose all weekend. It was just a lot of work in the car to keep it from snapping around on us. The guys tried a lot tonight. I’m disappointed because we wanted to give everyone from Smithfield a better result than that. We can do that, but tonight wasn’t our night. We’ll go back and see what happened and then get ready for Chicago.”