Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Almirola Eying Chase Spot As Series Moves To Pocono

Aric Almirola and the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Smithfield Ford team head to Pocono Raceway this weekend just 17 points outside of the coveted Top-10 in championship points.  

And while only at the halfway mark of the 26-race Sprint Cup Series regular season, Almirola hopes to conquer the track known as the “Tricky Triangle,” bring home a Top-10 finish and propel his team into Chase contention. 

Almirola posted 28th and 18th-place finishes in Pocono’s June and August races last season, and also has one start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series there, qualifying fifth and finishing fourth. 

"Pocono is certainly one of the tougher racetracks to set up to get your car to be perfect,” said Almirola, pointing to the differences in each of the track’s three turns. 

“Turn One is very high-speed and high-banked. The 'Tunnel' Turn is really high speed too; just enough to make you slow down a bit. Turn Three is a long, slow, sweeping corner.  Turn Three is very important,” he explained. “You have to get off that corner so you can make the long run down the front straightaway. 

“Pocono is always a very challenging place to get a good handling car, (but) I feel that we can have a really good race here,” said Almirola. “(Crew chief) Todd Parrott really knows how to set up the car for this track, and that's going to help with the new car. He's really good at finding the handling of the car that really works for me. I think that's why we had so much success. We haven't had a great few weeks, but we're still right here in contention. We just need a good finish this Sunday." 

Parrott brings 30 races of experience to Pocono. He has tallied two wins -- in 1997 and 2002 – as well as 12 Top-five and 15 Top-10 finishes, with an average finish of 14.4. 

"I'm excited to go to Pocono,” said Parrott. “Pocono is a very challenging track because it is so unique. We will really focus on getting off Turn Three with a lot of speed, so we can get good momentum on the front straightaway. You never know what Mother Nature is going to do at Pocono, so you have to be ready for hot and cool track temperatures because they can change in an instant."

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