Richard Petty Motorsports Michigan 400 Race Report
Richard Petty Motorsports Michigan 400 Race Report
Michigan International Speedway 2.0-mile oval
1. Greg Biffle
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Kyle Busch
5. Tony Stewart
17. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Eckrich Ford
23. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Stanley Ford
Aric Almirola No. 43 Eckrich Ford Race Summary
Aric Almirola took to Michigan International Speedway on his first Father’s Day as a dad. He started the 400-mile race from the top-five. The No. 43 Eckrich Ford team raced in the top-15 most of the day. Near the middle of the race, they made a good adjustment for the Petty Blue Ford, and Almirola fought back to the top-10. A late-race accident sent debris on the track, and a piece hit the nose of the No. 43 Ford. The damage to the right-front nose hurt the handling of the Fusion, and Almirola held on to cross the finishline in the 17th spot in the Eckrich Ford. The finish moved the team within 13 points of a chase spot and in the 15th position in points.
The No. 43 Eckrich Ford started the Michigan 400 from the fifth spot. Starting on the inside line, Almirola fell back to 11th when the caution came out on Lap Seven for a two-car incident. The team decided to stay out as Almirola commented that the Ford Fusion was a little tight and did not run well on the inside line. He restarted on the inside lane for the Lap 11 restart. At the restart, the No. 43 fell back to 16th before Almirola drove to the outside line and back up to 14th. He told the crew that the car was pretty good but just needed some track position and to start on the outside line.
On Lap 20, NASCAR Officials called a competition caution after rain soaked the track overnight. During the caution, Almirola told the team that the Eckrich Ford was a little tight in the center, and the team decided to make a two-tire pit stop and small trackbar adjustment. The Petty Blue No. 43 restarted 11th on Lap 26, once again on the outside line, and fell back to 15th. Almirola said the car was loose everywhere as he raced in the top-15. A one-car accident in Turn Two brought out the caution on Lap 30. Crew Chief Todd Parrott elected to stay out as track position was pivotal.
The No. 43 Eckrich Ford restarted 14th but fell back to 20th as Almirola told the crew the car was too loose as the track began to get freer. He raced in 20th until NASCAR Officials called a caution for debris on Lap 42. The Tampa, Fla., native said the car got better later in the run but was still really loose. Parrott called the No. 43 down pit road for a two-tire pit stop and another trackbar adjustment. The team restarted 26th.
Restarting on the outside line, Almirola quickly drove into the top-20 and began working his way to the front of the field. By the Lap 77 debris caution, the No. 43 Eckrich Ford was in the 14th position. Almirola radioed that the car was a little bit too tight on two tires but the tight condition helped him be more aggressive on the track.
During the caution, Parrott called for another two-tire stop and air pressure adjustment. The No. 43 pit crew clicked off a fast stop, and the Eckrich Ford restarted in the 10th position. Restarting on the outside line, Almirola quickly drove into the sixth position. He continued to race in the top-eight but told the crew that the last two-tire stop made the Ford Fusion too tight.
On Lap 105, the sixth caution was called for a one-car incident, and the No. 43 Eckrich Ford team elected to make a trackbar adjustment during a two-tire pit stop. Unfortunately, Almirola restarted on the outside line in the 14th place. He worked with spotter Tyler Green to jump to the outside line quickly and drove into the 11th position. As he raced in 11th, he told the crew that the car was a little bit loose on exit and that he did not like the last adjustment.
Another yellow flag waved on Lap 132 for oil on the track with the No. 43 Eckrich Ford in the 10th spot. The team made their only four-tire stop during this caution and went back on the last trackbar adjustment. With most cars getting only two tires, Almirola restarted 21st and was the second car who took four tires. He fell back to 26th on the restart but worked up to 19th 10 laps later. He told the crew that the Fusion needed more overall grip and would get really loose when he got behind other cars making it hard to make a pass.
By Lap 163, cars began green flag pit stops, and the No. 43 moved into the 11th position when an accident in Turn One brought out the caution. Unfortunately, debris from the incident flew in front of the No. 43 Eckrich Ford and hit the front of the car. Almirola told the crew he was not sure if there was damage but the debris hit the car straight on.
Parrott called him to pit road for a two-tire stop and to check the damage. In the pit box, the team changed tires and inspected the nose of the car. The right side had a softball sized hole, and the debris looked to have hit the brake duct. The No. 43 Eckrich Ford returned to the track in the 14th position and discussed whether it was worth giving up track position to try to fix the damage.
With only 27 laps remaining, the team elected for track position as they were not sure if the damage would affect the car’s handling. Unfortunately, the damage hurt the car’s handling on the track. Almirola fell back to 17th and fought to keep the position in the final 23 laps. He held on to cross the finishline 17th. Despite falling to the 15th position in championship points, the team is five points closer to a chase berth position, just 13 points outside of 10th.
“We are really disappointed,” explained Almirola. “We had a good shot at having a great points day. Our car was pretty good most of the race. We really couldn’t do anything on the inside line, which is where we ended up restarting most of the day. In the middle of the race, we got a good handle on the car. Unfortunately, the car didn’t handle the same on a four-tire stop, and we fell back a little bit. We would have been okay restarting in the top-15 but the damage from the debris hurt the car’s handling. I think we could have gotten a top-10 finish, so that stings a bit. We’ll regroup and head to Sonoma next weekend. We tested there earlier in the year, so I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Marcos Ambrose No. 9 Stanley Ford Race Summary
Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Ford team came into Sunday's 400-mile event at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway with high hopes. Ambrose holds the track record at the track, and the team was fast during practice sessions. The team didn't have the qualifying effort they hoped and started 23rd.
Looking for wins, Ambrose was ready for the race. However, at the start, he was hit and dropped back to 31st. An early caution on Lap Seven allowed the team to come down pit road and give Ambrose four tires to help move forward. By Lap 20, in time for a competition caution by NASCAR, Ambrose had rebounded back to 26th. He told the Drew Blickensderfer-led crew that his car was loose, and he came down pit road for four tires, fuel and some adjustments. In addition, the team also worked on repairs to the left-rear of the car after contact with another car. The team restarted 35th but was up to 31st by Lap 25.
The team took the opportunity to get four new tires and fuel during a caution on Lap 28, and again Ambrose moved up through the field after the stop. The caution waved again on Lap 42, and this time the team elected not to pit. Ambrose restarted in the fourth spot. Ambrose was pretty strong on the restart and ran in the top-15 past Lap 50 and in the top-20 until their next stop on Lap 70. Ambrose said his car was still loose and did not have the speed he needed to move forward.
A caution on Lap 77 allowed the team to work on the car with more chassis adjustments including a trackbar change. The team restarted in 30th and by Lap 100 was racing in 28th. The caution came out again on Lap 105, and the team worked on the body of the car again. After getting it fixed, they restarted 29th. Over the next run, Ambrose said the car was just too loose. A caution on Lap 132 allowed the team to make another trackbar adjustment. They restarted 25th and were looking to finish in the top-20.
The team was 16th after a final restart for a caution on Lap 173. Ambrose said the car was just too loose to hang onto. He fell back to 25th but raced back to 23rd at the end of the race. The finish allowed Ambrose to remain 23rd in points.
"We really had to fight hard today," said Ambrose. "The car was really loose and the guys threw a lot at it to make it better, but we just struggled with the car for most of the race. We had some contact early too and had some damage to the rear of the car. It didn't help with our speed. We will now concentrate on Sonoma and go for the win there."
Richard Petty Motorsports will head west this weekend to the Sonoma Raceway in California. The race will be televised live by TNT and broadcast live on SIRIUS/XM NASCAR and the Performance Racing Network.
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 entrepreneurs Andrew Murstein and Douglas Bergeron, 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 two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola pilots the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force and STP and Marcos Ambrose drives the No. 9 machine with primary partners Stanley and DEWALT. In addition, Michael Annett wheels the No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The team is headquartered in Concord, N.C.