How bad was the handling of Aric Almirola’s car early in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race?
So bad that he twice went a lap down early in the race.
But Almirola also got two “lucky dogs,” free pass to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car, and he spent the rest of the race making the most of his second chances, posting a season-best fifth-place finish in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
The critical factor was Almirola’s ability to stay infront of leader Kevin Harvick before a wreck involving Brian Scott and Kyle Busch brought out the fifth caution on Lap 376.
“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. (Crew chief) Trent Owens and the guys made really good adjustments on the car, and got it better and better. Finally we weren’t the lucky dog -- we raced and stayed on the lead lap, and when the caution came out, we got a chance to restart with the leaders.
“That was the big break for us. Every time we would get the lucky dog I had to start dead last and 30-40-50 laps the leaders were right back on me. It was a great day for us, a really good points day for us. I’m 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.”