Almirola goes to backup car after practice wreck
July 12, 2014, Pat DeCola, NASCAR.com
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LOUDON, N.H. -- If last weekend's Daytona winner Aric Almirola plans to make it two in a row for his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion, he'll have to work his way through the field -- all of it -- in Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301 (1 p.m. ET, TNT) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
On his 14th lap in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Saturday morning, Almirola had a left rear tire go down in Turn 3, sending his car careening hard into the outside wall. The winner of the Coke Zero 400 was 19th in Coors Light Pole Award qualifying Friday, but will have to start at the rear of the field Sunday after being forced to switch to his backup car.
A nearly identical incident took place in Friday's opening practice, when Ford stablemate Joey Logano wrecked his car with the same issue.
"I honestly have no idea (what's going on with these tires); I just don't know," said Almirola, currently 21st in points but in position to make the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup because of his Daytona victory. "That was our third or fourth run on that same set of tires, so I honestly cannot give you an answer. I don't know. That was probably my fourth lap on the track, too. So, it's just weird."
Despite the relief that comes along with securing a win -- especially with 11 drivers in the win column with eight races to go before the Chase field locks -- it's still a letdown for a Richard Petty Motorsports squad that had hoped to build momentum at the Magic Mile.
Almirola had his best finish of the season (fifth) in this race last year and had it targeted as a spot where he could potentially pick up another win. With the chips now stacked against him in terms of another solid finish, Almirola is still hopeful, but Saturday's wreck is tough to swallow.
"We finished fifth here last year in this race, so I thought coming into here we were certainly capable of having a strong day and having a good run," he said. "We still can. There's nothing to say our backup car won't be better than our primary car was.
"It's still disappointing. It's always disappointing when you wreck a race car."