Coming off their second top-10 finish of the season, Aric Almirola and the No. 43 team of Richard Petty Motorsports will take new sponsor Transportation Impact to Pocono Raceway for an extended weekend that will include a two-day open test. Sunday's Pocono 400 will mark the NASCAR debut for Transportation Impact, an Emerald Isle, N.C.-based parcel spend management company.
Before the official race weekend kicks off on Friday, the team will participate in testing sessions on Wednesday and Thursday at the 2.5-mile triangular track. The Long Pond, Pa., facility was repaved in the off-season and the test will help teams adjust their cars to the new track surface.
Almirola and the No. 43 team finished sixth in Sunday's race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway for their second top-10 finish this season. The result boosted Almirola two spots in the point standings to 17th. He has now climbed four spots in the past two weeks.
Almirola has one prior start at Pocono Raceway in his racing career - a Camping World Truck Series event in which he finished fourth.
This week will be an extra busy one for Almirola. The driver will also run a dirt Late Model car in the star-studded "Prelude to the Dream" charity race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on Wednesday evening.
Comments from Transportation Impact Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"This is going to be a busy week. We've got a bunch of test time at Pocono to try out the new surface - which is going to be a big benefit for me because I've never raced at Pocono in a Cup car. So it'll be good to get out there and run a bunch of extra laps both for myself as a driver and for the team because, obviously, any prior notebook that the team had from before isn't going to account for the new pavement.
"I'm looking forward to having Transportation Impact on the car. It's always fun to bring new sponsors into the sport for the first time and show them what it's all about. I know they're looking to get their name out there, and with the way this '43' team has been running in recent weeks, I think we can get them some attention. Mike Ford and the guys have been doing such a great job with our cars and we're really showing progress week to week. Our pole at Charlotte and then the sixth-place finish last week at Dover shows that. I'm excited about the direction we're headed."
Comments from Crew Chief Mike Ford on Pocono:
"I'm excited to go there. With the configuration of the racetrack and the changes that have happened with the repave, I think that's an advantage for us because Aric hasn't run a Cup car on the track before, so he has no pre-conceived notions of what the track has been. It seems that track goes through more frequent change with shifting and not shifting, tire changes and whatever the case may be. And every time that track goes through change, the guys have to relearn it. It's easier to learn it the first time than to go back and relearn it.
"With the pave job, the track's going to be faster because it's smoother. But the approach to take to running there is going to be similar to what it's been. The advantage to us to run better is the fact that Aric has not run there in a Cup car. I'm looking forward to it."