Ford Racing held a working breakfast for media on Thursday morning. On hand were drivers from Richard Petty Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Germain Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, fielding questions during the final day of the Sprint Media Tour.
With team owner Richard Petty holding court among a throng of reporters, RPM driver Aric Almirola sat just a couple of seats away with only two members of the media. But that suits Almirola just fine as he hopes to sneak his way into this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“I think we need to be in the top 15 in points,” said Almirola, who finished 20th in points during his first full season in the Cup series last year. “I feel like if I can run consistently inside the top 15, and we can win a race, with this new points system anything is possible – maybe even a wild-card spot.”
Marcos Ambrose, who picked up his second career Cup win last season and finished 18th in points, has goals similar to those of his RPM teammate.
“We want to compete for a championship – plain and simple,” said Ambrose. “I think we have a great team and a lot of continuity. There’s no reason we can’t make that jump (to the Chase).”
Germain Racing’s Casey Mears talked about the importance of taking his game “to the next level,” while David Ragan noted that running for a smaller team like Front Row Motorsports has given him perspective on just how tough it is to win in the Sprint Cup Series.
“You need to manage your expectations,” said Ragan, who is in his second full season with FRM after spending five seasons at Roush Fenway. “Instead of running for a championship and wanting to win six or seven races, our goals are top-15 and a top-20 points finishes, which is the hard part. But on a smaller team you’re also able to pay attention to smaller details you might not on a bigger team, and that’s an aspect I like.”
That isn’t the case for Trevor Bayne, who will be looking to pick up where Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (now running a full-time Cup schedule) left off as a back-to-back champion for Roush.
“Ricky did an amazing job, and I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I enjoy that kind of pressure,” said Bayne. “(Ricky) left me with a terrific team and our goals are the same as his were, and that’s to bring home a third straight championship in the No. 6 Ford.”