Aric Almirola and the No. 43 team hope that a two-day test at Chicago will translate to speed this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As the team looks for momentum leading into The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a good run could help propel them through the Challenger round.
Almirola has three Sprint Cup starts at the mile-and-a-half track. He scored his best finish of 20th last season. He also has six more starts in the Nationwide and Truck Series, where he tallied a best finish of third in the truck race in 2010.
Eckrich will return to the hood of the "Petty Blue" No. 43 this weekend for the fourth time this season. At each primary race, Eckrich teams up with Richard Petty Motorsports to give back to Operation Homefront through "Operation Inspiration." Eckrich is in its third year of partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.Eckrich has already raised more than $750,000 in donations for the charity. They will also team up with Arby's to bring awareness for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign.
#ChaseBound @aric_almirola & #43 @EckrichMeats team hope Chicago test creates momentum for @AMSUpdates and into #TheChase. #NASCAR
#ChaseBound, @Aric Almirola and the No. 43 @Eckrich team hope @Chicagoland Speedway test creates momentum heading into @Atlanta Motor Speedway and into #TheChase.
"I like Atlanta because as a driver you feel like you can make a difference. You can search around for grip. A lot of the places we go to, there is one groove. You really are at the mercy of your car and track position. You can't move around to find more grip. It makes it difficult if you don't have the best car or good track position. But when you go to Atlanta, you can run from the white line all the way up to rubbing the fence. You just constantly search for grip for 500 miles.
"The tires wear out, so it can make a big difference if you come down pit road early and get four tires. A lot more strategy plays into the race. It's more fun for the drivers to move around the race track. Long-run speed doesn't' count that much anymore, but Atlanta is a place that it does. The pace will slow down two, three seconds from new tires to old tires, so if your car can hang on to the tires and you do a good job of managing them, it will make all the difference.
"We tested at Chicagoland Speedway earlier this week and are hoping it will translate into a fast car this weekend and leading into The Chase. We've got to get turned around. The last few weeks have been brutal. We'll do everything we can to get The Chase started off with a bang."