Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team also had a strong day with Almirola picking up his best finish ever on a road course in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In fact, the finish was 10 positions better than his previous best, showing both the strength of the team and Almirola’s improvement on road courses.
Starting in the 29th spot, Almirola moved up to 26th by Lap 18 when he told crew chief Mike Ford that his car was losing overall grip around the track. The team came down pit road on Lap 23 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to help the car. As Almirola returned to the track, the caution waved putting the team one lap down. But, since they just came down for service, they were in position to take the wave-around and restart 30th on Lap 29.
From Lap 29 to Lap 48, Almiriola never said one word on the team radio. He didn’t need to as his actions were speaking louder than any words could as he advanced from the 30th position to 17th. On Lap 51, the team came down pit road for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.
On Lap 57, the second caution of the day waved and this time Ford called Almirola into the pits for fuel only. This allowed Almirola to keep track position. He restarted the race in the top-15 and was able to stay in the top-20 and race to 18th in the final 30 laps of the event.
Almirola moved up one spot to 21st in the championship standings.
Comments from Almirola after Watkins Glen: “Today was a big improvement for us at a road couse. I’ve got to thank Mike (Ford) and the guys, too. We had a pretty good car and we made some good calls on pit road to really gain some spots. On the track, I was pretty smooth and that helped us earn a good finish. It was a great day for Richard Petty Motorsports and Marcos. He drove a great race and deserved the win.”