Aric Almirola and the No. 43 team also had a fast Ford at Pocono. Friday in practice, the team was a top-10 team in both qualifying and race packages. Saturday during qualifying, Almirola did not get a favorable qualifying draw, but still laid down the 13th-fastest time of the day where he started Sunday’s race.
In the opening laps, Almirola was fighting a tight-handling Ford and on Lap 15 was racing in the 21st position. During the first caution on Lap 18, Almirola came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help loosen the car.
The changes didn’t help Almirola as the car was still tight on throttle. He was scored in 22nd on Lap 36. The team came down pit road for their second stop on Lap 48 with the rest of the field. The team again made a major chassis adjustment to help the car perform better for Almirola.
By Lap 57, Almirola was still fighting the handling of the car, but was holding strong in the top-25 and working with Mike Ford on their next step to help improve their position. As the run continued on, the car was better and Almirola was up to 21st on Lap 65.
The team made a stop on Lap 74 and was ready to keep making gains. The team took four tires, fuel and a smaller adjustment. The caution for Kurt Busch on Lap 87 allowed Almirola to come down pit road one last time. The rain was coming and Mike Ford gave Almirola four tires to help gain positions on the restart. It worked, as the leaders wrecked, and Almirola had no problem racing around the accident. He was scored in 19th position, but later moved up to 18th after video replay.
Almirola remains 22nd in the championships standings heading into Watkins Glen.
Comments from Almirola after Pocono: “Mike Ford and I are really working hard to make sure we’re getting the best results. I think today we did that and got the best finish at the end. Taking four tires at the end helped us. I wish we could have finished the race to learn more and see if we could get the car better. We were really fast, but just tight all day. I felt like we were making gains, though. We will look at our notes and be better for the next race.”