Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield Ford team worked hard in the off-season on the Daytona 500 but their main focus was improving the intermediate track program. This weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be a big weekend for the team to see how they have improved the program from last season. The team gained momentum last weekend with a fourth-place finish in the Daytona 500, a career-best for Almirola and the first Top-Five finish for the No. 43 since Richard Petty drove the famed number. The team is sixth in points and ready to compete for a spot in the Playoffs.
Almirola made six starts in the Monster Energy Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway and tallied a best finish of ninth in 2014. He scored one Top-10 and three Top-15 finishes. Last season, he struggled with the handling of the No. 43 Ford but scored a 15th-place finish.
Almirola will once again compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this weekend with the No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford. He was poised to get a good finish last weekend before a part failure in the front-end of the Ford Mustang. The team is regrouped and ready to compete in the Rinnai 250. Almirola has just two XFINITY starts at the 1.5-mile track and a best finish of eighth.
Almirola will join Richard Petty, Dale Inman, Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer and Sirius XM NASCAR's The Morning Drive LIVE from the Waffle House. The foursome will stop by the Waffle House for some waffles, Smithfield bacon and good conversation.
When: Friday, March 3, 7-11 a.m.
Where: Waffle House, 1064 Bear Creek Blvd, Hampton, GA 30228
Almirola will stop by the Air Force display to sign autographs before he hops into the No. 43 Ford for the Atlanta 500.
When: Sunday, March 5, 10:25 a.m.
Where: Air Force display in the Fanzone
Fans can celebrate #KINGs80th, as well as the 25th anniversary of Petty's final race, at Atlanta Motor Speedway With the purchase of a $69 Upper Petty Grandstand ticket for Sunday's race, fans can add a $10 upgrade which includes a replica ticket from the 1992 Hooters 500, a commemorative Richard Petty hero card, access to an exclusive Q&A session with Richard Petty on race day and a chance to win one of 43 replica 1992 Hooters 500 tickets signed by "The King" himself. One dollar from each upgrade purchase will go towards the Petty Family Foundation and Victory Junction.
The package is also available as an upgrade for any fan who has previously purchased a Sunday ticket valued at $69 or more and member of Atlanta Motor Speedway's Insiders Club, regardless of seat location.
"Daytona is its own animal. We're thrilled we got a fourth-place finish this week to start our season off on a high note. But, we're looking forward to seeing where we compare to the competition in Atlanta. We felt like we really needed to improve our intermediate track program and worked really hard in the off season to get where we need to be. Atlanta will be a great test for us to see where we can still work to improve."