Aric Almirola's best results in the 2012 season have come on short tracks, so he's eager to take the No. 43 Gwaltney Ford Fusion back to the half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this week. The driver finished eighth at the paper-clip-shaped oval in April, earning his first top-10 finish of the season.
The red and white paint scheme of Gwaltney returns to the No. 43 for Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500. The producer ofbacon, franks, lunchmeats, sausage and ham first appeared on Almirola's Ford Fusion earlier this month at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and will now adorn the car in Gwaltney's home state of Virginia. The company encourages fans to "like" its Facebook page at facebook.com/GwaltneyFoods to access a coupon for Gwaltney hot dogs and also to take and upload photos of the No. 43 Gwaltney Ford to Facebook using the Gwaltney Foods "tag."
The No. 43 team is coming off a race weekend that was shaping up to be its best performance of the season. At Kansas Speedway Sunday, Almirola qualified fifth and led 69 laps in a dominant car before being felled by two separate incidents of blown right-front tires.
He has plenty of experience at Martinsville Speedway to produce another good run, with seven Sprint Cup starts at the .526-mile track. His best result was his eighth-place finish earlier this season in the same Ford Fusion that he will pilot this weekend.
Comments from Gwaltney Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"I'm eager to get back in the car. We showed last week at Kansas that we can run with the best of them - and even outrun the best of them. We had such a fast car. It was such a disappointment for it to end the way it did when for sure we had a car capable of going to Victory Lane. But we ran really well the last time we were at Martinsville earlier this year and we're taking the same car back, and I think we've gotten even better on short tracks since then. So I think we can definitely bounce back from what happened at Kansas and line ourselves up for another shot at a win.
"Gwaltney is going to be back on our No. 43 Ford Fusion, which is very cool. We had a lot of fun with them at Talladega, passing out bacon and assuring everyone that media reports of a bacon shortage were false. I'm sure we'll all be eating plenty of bacon on the hauler again this week. We appreciate all the support that Gwaltney and its parent company, Smithfield, have given us this year. We're going to try like heck to get them a win before this season is over."
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Martinsville:
"Martinsville is a real 'finesse' track. It's not just about speed. You've got to get the car handling well through the turns with good forward drive off the corner or you'll have a tough time passing anybody. You've also got to really take care of your brakes so we'll be keeping a close eye on the brakes on our Gwaltney Ford Fusion this weekend.
"We had such a great car last week and Aric really drove his tail off. We'll keep our confidence up, look to qualify well on Friday and then get the car driving just the way he needs it for Sunday. I think it can be another great race for us."