Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team are looking to make history this weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway with a fifth consecutive top-10 finish. If the team can finish in the top-10, it will mark the first time that the Petty-owned No. 43 has more than four consecutive top-10 finishes since Richard Petty posted seven consecutive top-10s in 1983. It will also mark the first time Richard Petty Motorsports has posted five consecutive top-10 finishes.
With a 10th-place finish at Talladega, the team moved to the seventh position in championship points, a first for any Richard Petty Motorsports team after 10 races. The No. 43 team is trailing the sixth spot by six points and has a 14 point lead on 11th.
Almirola made his Darlington debut last season with the No. 43 team, where he started in the 13th spot and finished 19th. The Tampa, Fla., native also has two Nationwide and one truck start at the 1.37-mile track. His best Darlington start (fourth) and finish (ninth) came in his lone truck start in 2010. Veteran Crew Chief Todd Parrott knows how to get around the 'Lady in Black.' In his 23 starts as crew chief, he has an average start of 12.9 and finish of 11.1, including three wins and three poles.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"We sure are on a roll lately. I think we are the only people that aren't surprised we are seventh in points and have the longest current top-10 streak in the series. Todd (Parrott), the guys and I are really clicking. We worked hard over the off-season to maintain our momentum, and it worked. We just need to keep it up and start moving to top-fives and hopefully a win soon.
"Darlington is a really tough track. Last year, I felt like I learned a lot during the race and got into a good rhythm by the end. We had a decent finish for my first time out and only a few 'Darlington stripes.' Todd has a great track record here, so I should be able to feed off of his experience. Obviously, our goal is to get another top-10 finish, but we are really eyeing victory lane. I think if we can put ourselves in a good position during the majority of the race, we can have a good shot at getting the 43 its first win since 1999."
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:
"Darlington is a very difficult track. You never know when the 'Lady in Black' will come out and bite you. It's a long race from daylight to night, so it's really important to keep up with the track changes and make the right adjustments. Our team's relationship is stronger than ever, which is important here. It will be key to have good communication from Aric about what the car is doing, so we can stay ahead of the track with changes."