Aric Almirola Starts Third Today At Darlington Raceway After Setting Track Record

Aric Almirola Starts Third Today At Darlington Raceway After Setting Track Record

by April 12, 2014 0 comments


DARLINGTON, SC – On Friday, Aric Almirola in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Fresh from Florida Ford Fusion set the track record at Darlington Raceway during Bojangles’ Southern 500 knockout qualifying.

Over the past few weekends, Aric Almirola, crew chief Trent Owens and the entire No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team have not only performed well, but they are getting closer to reaching Victory Lane and earning a spot in the Chase. The burst of momentum started back in August when the team finished third at Bristol Motor Speedway. Almirola was taken out the following weekend at Auto Club Speedway but was able to bounce back with a strong eighth place finish at Martinsville Speedway. Last weekend, the team finished 12th at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Our 1.5 mile program has been off but our short track program has been better than we expected,” Aric Almirola said. “Typically we haven’t run well on short tracks and the roles are reversed this year. We put a lot of effort into our 1.5 mile program recently and we ran better at Texas, still not where we need to be but better. We brought a race car here this weekend and it has a lot of speed in it and I feel really good about it.”

Heading into this weekend’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 weekend at Darlington Raceway, the team hopes to continue to carry that momentum because Trent Owens is from Darlington. April is also Autism Awareness Month, and that hits home for the Owens family. This time last year, Owens and Kyle Larson were sitting in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway.

“Trent has a lot of pride coming here to Darlington having grown up not far from here,” Almirola said. “I told him before we got here that he would have to carry me because I do not like this race track and tend to struggle here. So far he is carrying me pretty good and brought me a really good car with a ton of speed in it. Now we need to make it last 500 miles but I feel good about this weekend. Everyone at RPM has been bringing better and better race cars to the track every weekend.”

Almirola set the track record at the “Lady In Black” during second round of knockout qualifying. He ran a lap of 26.705 seconds at 183.479 mph; however, Kevin Harvick was declared the pole sitter of the 65th running of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 after setting the pace in round three. Almirola will start third later today, just behind Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

“Before that third session I told myself that I watched the shootout and when I went to go qualify for that third session I said I wasn’t going to watch it and just run as hard as I can and if I rub the fence I rub the fence,” Almirola said. “We missed it just a little bit.

“We made one adjustment right before the third session and I don’t think we went quite far enough. We were just a little too tight but that was a heck of a lap by Harvick. The track record lap I actually felt like I was going faster in the third session than the second session but the record was in the second session. It was a great lap for us and I am proud of everyone at RPM.”

The Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway is set to begin on FOX at 6 p.m. with the green flag waving at 6:45 p.m. You can also listen live on the Motor Racing Network.

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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