Richard Petty Motorsports
First Data 500 Race Report
First Data 500 Race Results:
1: Kyle Busch
18: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
It was another wild 500 laps at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during Sunday’s First Data 500. What looked to be a first-time winning moment for Chase Elliott ended with wrecked cars, hurt feelings and the No. 43 Smithfield Fusion driving through it all for an 18th-place finish.
Almirola and the team came into Sunday’s race with consecutive Top-10 finishes and a Top-10 starting spot. Early in the race, Almirola settled into the 14th position and reported the need to turn better and have more forward drive. The team made adjustments, and through pit strategy, moved into third before the end of Stage One. Almirola just didn’t have the grip to stay in the front. He finished the stage 19th.
The second stage featured a lot more green flag racing. On the restart, a slower car made contact with Almirola and hurt his momentum. He raced hard to stay 19th, but fell a lap down. The team took a wave around to get back on the Lead Lap and finished the stage in 20th.
The final stage, Almirola was consistent, running in the 21st position for the majority of the final 200 laps. The team had to take another wave around to get back on the Lead Lap, setting themselves up for the wild finish.
With a caution with less than 10 laps to go, Almirola was called down pit road for fresh tires for a four-lap shootout. On the restart, the leader was wrecked forcing the race into overtime. Almirola, being smart, knew there was more trouble coming. As cars came to the finish line they began wrecking. Almirola was able to race around them to an 18th-place finish.
“We just didn’t have the overall grip in the race,” said Almirola. “The track changed and at times we were OK, but others we were just too loose. The Smithfield crew did a nice job of making changes, keeping us in contention, and at the end getting as much as possible.”
About Richard Petty Motorsports
A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneur Andrew Murstein, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields one team in competition in the NASCAR premier series with driver Aric Almirola. Almirola wheels the iconic No. 43 Ford with partners Smithfield Foods, STP, United States Air Force and Fresh From Florida. The team is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.