Richard Petty Motorsports Tales of the Turtles 400 Race Report
Tales of the Turtles 400 Race Results:
1: Martin Truex Jr.
24: Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford
Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team started the Tales of the Turtles 400 from the 21st spot. Tight in the middle of the corners, Almirola complimented how the Fusion handled on the entry of the corners early in the race. The field began green-flag pit stops on Lap 38 with Almirola in the 20th spot and radioing that the car was getting loose as the run went on. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called Almirola down pit road on Lap 40 for four tires and a small chassis adjustment. The adjustment helped, and Almirola worked up to the 18th spot despite going a lap down to the leaders. Almirola gave up the 18th spot at the stage break to pit for four tires and small adjustment.
The Smithfield team started Stage Two from the 20th spot. Unfortunately, the last adjustment made the car really loose. Almirola worked the trackbar and his line on the track to improve the car’s handling until the next pit stop. By Lap 121, the team made a green-flag pit stop for four tires and adjustments to help tighten up the car. A few laps later, Almirola told the crew the car was still loose and thought the track was getting looser as the race went on. He held the 23rd spot at the end of Stage Two.
Blickensderfer called for big changes during the pit stop, and Almirola restarted 25th. He raced as high as 22nd and said the center of the corner was tighter but the car was still loose overall. The team elected to pit early in a green-flag cycle, but the caution came out as Almirola made his way down pit road. The timing worked out, and the team didn’t lose a lap pitting for four tires and adjustments. With all the lead-lap cars pitting, Almirola could take the Wavearound to get one of his three laps back. He restarted 26th. Other cars that took the Wavearound didn’t pit and were forced to pit under green before the end of the race. Almirola raced as high as 22nd in the final run but finished the race 24th.
“I felt like we had a really good car to start off with,” said Almirola. “We were good on the long run. The first few adjustments we made were good, but then, the car just got really loose. We battled the loose condition the rest of the day. We got it better at the end but were stuck laps down at that point. The timing worked for us on the last caution, and Drew made a good call to run to the end.”