Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team head to Richmond International Raceway with one more opportunity to make it into The Chase. Inside of the Top 30 in the Championship Point Standings, Almirola is eligible to compete in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship but must win to move on. Richmond is the last opportunity to win a race before the sport's playoffs begin. The team's strongest run of the 2015 season came at last year's September race in Richmond. Almirola ran up front and had a shot to win the race but came home in fourth place, just barely missing the cutoff for The Chase by one spot. Almirola went on to finish the season 17th in the Championship Point Standings, the highest-finishing non-Chase driver.
Almirola has nine starts at Richmond International Raceway. He has three Top-10 finishes at the three-quarter-mile track. His best finish of fourth place came last year in the regular-season finale.
Fans will have the opportunity to see both Almirola and "The King" Richard Petty when they judge the Whole Hog Challenge at the Smithfield Display in Richmond International Raceway's Fan Midway. Pre-selected contestants will compete against one another to eat eight Smithfield ribs the fastest. The winner, crowned by Almirola and Petty, will move on to participate in the final Whole Hog Challenge Championship in Miami at the end of the season.
When: Saturday, September 10, 4:45 - 5:15 PM
Where: Smithfield Display, Richmond International Raceway Fan Midway
On Saturday afternoon, Almirola and Petty will also meet with fans who purchase a special ticket packet from the track. Richmond International Raceway and Smithfield are offering a ticket package that gives fans grandstand seating for the Cup race on Saturday and grants admission to a private screening of NBC's "Building 43" that will be followed by a Q&A with Petty and Almirola. One fan from the screening will be selected to ride around the race track with Petty in the replica 1967 No. 43 Plymouth Belvedere built during the production of the movie. Purchasing information can be found on the track's website, www.rir.com.
"We raced at Richmond in the daylight back in the spring, so there's not much that we'll be able to take from that race and apply to this weekend. Richmond is so drastically different from day to night. Of all the tracks we go to, I'd say Charlotte is the most drastic from day to night, but Richmond is a strong second. We practice during the day there and try to get a good feel on our No. 43 Smithfield Ford, but we all know that if your car is driving well and you're happy with it in practice then it probably won't stay that way once the sun goes down and the lights come on. It always makes for an interesting race. But, even though we can't bring much from spring to fall, we know that Richmond is still Richmond. It gets really slick, and you've got to have a lot of forward drive to be able to pass cars. There will be a lot of pressure during this trip to Richmond because it's our last chance to make The Chase, but I've seen this team deliver under this kind of pressure before. So I'm confident that we'll go out there and fight hard."