Aric Almirola, Trent Owens Focused On Making The 2016 Chaseby Hunter Thomas January 20, 2016 0 comments
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Following the cutoff race to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Richmond International Raceway back in September of 2015, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola was 16th in the point standings. However, due to Kyle Busch’s waiver, Almirola was out.
Fast forward to the 2016 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Fusion team with driver, Aric Almirola and crew chief, Trent Owens is ready to put the 2015 season behind them and move on to bigger and better things in 2016.
“We missed the Chase by like 11 points, which was nothing to hang our heads about,” said Aric Almirola on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “We were disappointed but we still felt like we accomplished a lot of things and we circled a couple of races that if we could have had back, we certainly felt capable of making the Chase. I have never been more excited about starting a year that I am this year with the additions that Sammy has made in the shop and personnel, the aero department and building our own chassis and those things and having Chris on board working with Trent.
In recent years, Richard Petty Motorsports has been hanging their own bodies, but this season, the organization will also have the ability to actually build their own chassis. Basically, that means the teams can make their adjustments much more quickly in the shop and customize all of the details to their liking. Both teams will continue to rely heavily on the Roush Fenway Racing engineering department, and in fact, many of the chassis components will still come from the alliance; however, any time a team can have the hands-on ability to innovate their parts and pieces, it’s always a good thing and a sign of growth and stability.
“It’s a quality control type thing,” said Trent Owens, crew chief of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Fusion said. “As much as we rely on simulation program nowadays, we have the opportunity to measure everything down to the thousandths, get everything completely accurate, so hopefully the information we’re getting out of our computers will be that exact same information on the racetrack. It should help us in performance. Whether that’s immediate performance, that’s hard to say, but down the road to get this organization to a bigger and a more independent team, it’s a step we needed to take.”
Behind the scenes in the Richard Petty Motorsports offices, they were able to bring back all of the primary partners for Almirola in 2016. Most notably, Smithfield Foods upped their races from 29 to 31 this upcoming season. The team hopes that the continued support from its partners will reflect solid performances on the track.
“We are thrilled that by the end of ’15 we were able to renew every sponsor that we had with extensions,” said Richard Petty Motorsports chief executive officer, Brian Moffitt. “Smithfield was able to come on board for 31 races from 29 and they also extended the year and we have a multi-year deal again with Smithfield so they will continue to support us and our sport in a big way. We are thrilled to have them. We have US Airforce renewing with us and STP and Florida Agriculture Department back with us again. So we have a solid foundation for Aric to go out and win races and contend for the Chase. We look forward to it.”
There are many new and exciting things going on at Richard Petty Motorsports, but on top of all the advancements in the shop, Almirola will be racing alongside of his new teammate, Brian Scott, who will pilot the No. 44 car for the organization. Trent Owens mentioned on Wednesday that he has already began working with Scott. The two worked with each other during a test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Owens believes that the two teams will make a great duo.
“He (Brian Scott) ran Aric’s setups, and he had decent feedback with Aric’s setups, so that’s a help,” Owens said. “Drivers are probably going to run into each other on the track at some point. That’s just a given, but at least right now everyone is working hard to be one team. With Chris (Heroy, No. 44 crew chief) coming over, we seem to share a lot of the same philosophies in how we build the cars, and that’s making things a lot nicer, and I think our initial goal is to start the season out with very similar setups and work from there.”
Only time will tell if all of the changes will make a huge difference for the on-track performances, but as for now, the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is looking to be a huge step in the right direction for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas