Aric Almirola started Sunday’s Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR in the 29th position. It didn’t take long for the race to get wild, with a multiple-car wreck shaking things up before the field could even complete Lap 1. The No. 43 Transportation Impact Ford avoided damage, but Almirola reported that the wrecking cars kicked up dirt and grass onto his grill and the car’s temperatures were running hot. Crew chief Mike Ford ordered the car down pit road to get four tires and to clean the grill and windshield.
The Lap 1 caution seemed to set the tone for the afternoon. The second of seven total cautions on the day came out on Lap 13 for another accident. Almirola had moved up to 23rd at that point and reported his Ford Fusion was handling well but again was running hot. On the team’s second pit stop on Lap 16, the crew pulled some tape off the grill to help with the temperatures. It wasn’t long before the Transportation Impact Ford responded, with Almirola moving up to 15th position by Lap 34.
After a green-flag pit stop on Lap 44, Almirola continued to impress in his first Sprint Cup Series start at Pocono, moving up the leaderboard into the top-10 by Lap 65 when the caution flag waved for the third time.
Through the middle portion of the 160-lap race, Almirola continued to log solid lap times, reporting that his only issue was getting the car to get through Turn 3 easier. By a Lap 82 restart after the race’s fourth caution, Almirola was in ninth and ready to make a charge for the top-five.
But the team’s hopes for a top finish were dashed on Lap 123, when the No. 43 Ford got loose and hit the wall in Turn 2, damaging the back end of the car. Almirola brought the car down pit road three times over the next five yellow-flag laps so the team could make repairs. Quick work by the over-the-wall crew allowed Almirola to get back on track and avoid a trip to the garage. He restarted in 29th, two laps down to the leader.
Almirola was able to complete the remaining 32 laps of the race without incident, picking up one position to cross the finish line in 28th. He now sits 20th in the driver point standings heading to Michigan next week.
Aric Almirola on his race: “That was a tough five days, and it definitely didn’t end the way we hoped it would. Our Transportation Impact Ford was actually handling pretty well for the most part — we were even up in the top-10 for a while. It’s just a tough track and I got loose at one point and got into the wall. But we learned a ton this trip out, and that’s really going to help us when we come back later this year.”