With only 12 races remaining, Aric Almirola is focused on getting his first Sprint Cup Series win this season. With an eye on victory lane, the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team will use a Goodyear tire test they participated in recently at Atlanta Motor Speedway and a team test at Chicagoland Speedway to their advantage as they head into the Labor Day race weekend.
Almirola has eight NASCAR starts at the Georgia track, including two Sprint Cup Series starts. His best finish at Atlanta came in 2010 when he finished third in the Truck Series race. Veteran Crew Chief Todd Parrott has 30 starts at the 1.5-mile track. He tallied one win with Dale Jarrett in 1997 and has 10 top-fives, 13 top-10s and two poles.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"Atlanta is certainly the raciest mile-and-a-half track that we go to. It is old and wore out. It's a mean, old, nasty race track which makes it a lot of fun. It can certainly try your patience as well. It's hard to get your car driving perfect around there. The tires fall off, and the next thing you know you are slipping and sliding around. You are always begging your crew chief for new tires. That's the fun thing about Atlanta. When the caution comes out, there is certainly some strategy because everyone wants four tires but sometimes track position will pay off too.
"We just got done doing the tire test at Atlanta, and I feel good about going there. Track time at Atlanta is really important. We unloaded with a package that we thought was going to be what we wanted. We spent eight hours testing, and by the end of the day, we had a totally different package that was quite a bit better. You would have never gotten to that setup had we only had an hour practice to get ready for qualifying and another hour or two the next day, so I think that was really important. To be able to go there and methodically go through our setups and think about things and not be rushed to get as much done as we can in an hour of practice will really help us this weekend."
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:
"I'm really looking forward to Atlanta. We had a tire test there a few weeks ago and tested this week in Chicago. We hit on some things at both tests that made us faster. The extra track time going into this weekend should really help us hit the ground running. Managing tires will be really important this weekend. The track can get really slick late into the run, so we'll do our best to get Aric the best tires and track position to be there at the end."