Richard Petty Motorsports Pure Michigan 400 Race Report
Michigan International Speedway
Pure Michigan Race Results:
1: Kyle Larson
12: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
A wild late race restart in overtime pushed Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team out of a potential Top-Five finishing spot during Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at the Michigan International Speedway, located just west of Detroit. Restarting on the inside line, the cars in front of Almirola were not able to get a good restart and the momentum of the outside line allowed multiple cars to pass on the final lap. Almirola put the Smithfield Ford in the best position possible on the backstretch and raced to a 12th-place finish.
Starting 24th, Almirola showed speed in the opening stage of the race. He was able to race up to 18th and said the Smithfield Ford was neutral, but lost grip late in the run. Because the team didn’t have to make lengthy adjustments, quick pit stops allowed Almirola to stay in the Top 20.
To gain track position, Drew Blickensderfer used brilliant strategy to put Almirola in the Top-10 in the final stage. Before the end of the second stage, Almirola came to pit road for service, but the team only took two tires. Almirola jumped a few positions, and as the stage ended, the team came in for new right-side tires.
In the final stage, many teams came down pit road early for fuel. Almirola and the team were able to stay on the track and race as high as fourth with 20 laps remaining. A caution then waved and the team came down pit road for four tires and fuel. A restart with nine to go, Almirola restarted 10th and was one of the fastest on the track. He was passing for the seventh spot when a final caution waved forcing overtime.
The team came down pit road again for four tires, but Almirola had to restart in the ninth position on the bottom. That lane did not have momentum and Almirola finished 12th. It’s the best finish for Almirola since his return from injury.
“The bottom lane was not really the preferred lane all weekend,” said Almirola. “It wasn’t in the Truck race or today. I restarted on the bottom lane and just couldn’t get going. Brad got to my inside and I got stuck in the middle and it was just kind of a dog fight after that.
“I would have gave anything to restart 10th instead of ninth, but it is what it is. It was a solid day for us. I’m really proud of Drew and everybody on this Smithfield Ford Fusion team. We worked on it all weekend and got it better and better, and the best we had it was right there in the race. I’m really proud of everybody. To come out here in Ford’s backyard and have a good run was nice for us.”
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 will return to 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.