Almirola: “I earned my money today”
Photo by Chris Trotman / NASCAR via Getty Images
Aric Almirola climbs into his No. 43 Ford Fusion at Daytona International Speedway. Almirola earned his first top-five finish of 2015 Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
Finishing fifth in Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway, Aric Almirola shared his thoughts post-race on his best finish of the season.
“I earned my money today that is for sure,” Almirola said. “This Smithfield Ford Fusion was a handful most of the day. It started off extremely tight. Trent Owens and the guys made really good adjustments on the car and got it better and better.”
The top-five effort was the first for the driver—and Richard Petty Motorsports—in 2015.
Almirola ran outside the top-20 during most of the first half of the event, falling off the lead lap before the halfway mark. Earning the free pass after the third caution, Almirola worked his No. 43 Ford Fusion through the field and into the top-ten with fewer than 25 laps to go.
The top-five finish propelled Almirola to tenth in driver points and places him as the 14th seed on the Chase Grid overall. Almirola sits 46 points above the Chase cutoff, 17th place Clint Bowyer.
“It was a great day for us; a really good points day for us,” he said. “I am proud of Trent Owens and all the guys at Richard Petty Motorsports. They have been working their guts out trying to bring better cars to the race track week in and week out.”
At the halfway mark before the Chase begins, Almirola remains the only driver inside the cutoff who has yet to lead a lap this season. And while the driver has posted ten lead lap finishes in 13 races, Almirola discussed an area that he and his team need to work on.
Photo by Jerry Markland / NASCAR via Getty Images
“We have to get better qualifying,” said Almirola, who is averaging a 25th place starting spot in 2015. “That is our Achilles heel right now. We start too deep in the field every week. All in all it was a good day for us and I am ready to go to Pocono.”