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Heartbreak for Aric Almirola at Chicagoland

Heartbreak for Aric Almirola at Chicagoland

by September 14, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

JOLIET, Ill. — Aric Almirola’s quest for the Sprint Cup championship hit a bump in the road on Sunday afternoon after having an engine expire at lap 230 in the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The driver of the No. 43 Eckrich Ford didn’t enter the race as a favorite to contend but he would stun the NASCAR world with what was looking to be a solid top-five result. Almirola would start from the middle of the grid and methodically begin to pick his way through field, battling past drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson to punch his way into the top-10.

Almirola even grabbed the lead during a late pit cycle on Laps 229-230, helping in his push to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase with a bonus point.

This year’s Coke Zero 400 winner’s hopes of contending for a strong finish would blow up – literally – as he was coming to pit road Almirola would head to his pit where his crew would meet him to take the No. 43 car to their garage stall.

When asked to describe his day, Almirola had one keyword to offer.

“Heartbroken I think is the easiest way to describe it,” Almirola stated. “I am really proud of my guys, we have nothing to hang our heads about. They brought me an awesome race car. We drove from 23rd up to the top-10, running sixth with just over 30 to go and it just wasn’t meant to be. We will regroup and go to Loudon and Dover and try to be spectacular.”

Almirola wasn’t able to point to what exactly in the engine let go and would thank his crew for putting in a great effort.

“I think the motor just let go,” he said. “My hat goes off to Trent Owens [crew chief] and all the guys on the Eckrich team. Our Fusion was really fast and it just wasn’t meant to be today. The motor let go. Doug Yates builds awesome horsepower for us every week and we rarely have any engine issues at all. It happened, but we had a lot of horsepower while it lasted.”

The current 16th-place driver in the Chase standings acknowledged the strategy that it will take to avoid elimination – win.

“We have to win, that’s it,” he said. “There is no other option. We have to go and figure out how we can win one of the next two races.”

 

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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