Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola major charge for rejuvenated group
By: Jenna Fryer, Connected Press on 4/03/2014
LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC – Aric Almirola has been racing nicely this yr in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He and teammate Marcos Ambrose are helping bring Richard Petty Motorsports back to relevance.
Richard Petty, nonetheless mourning the death of his wife, skipped the short trip to Martinsville Speedway to observe his crew compete.
At the track situated a tiny above an hour south from Petty’;s famed race store, his 2 drivers set out to capture a victory in honor of the late Lynda Petty and their boss, “The King.”
Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola fell brief of driving their way into Victory Lane on Sunday. But for just the 4th time in 77 races as teammates, each Richard Petty Motorsports drivers finished inside the top 10.
Ambrose led 22 laps en route to his season-ideal finish of fifth and Almirola was eighth. It marked the second time in 3 races the duo the 2 completed inside the prime 10, and showed the RPM has turned a corner in its bid to recapture some of its glory days.
“We have a brand here at our race group and it is Richard Petty Motorsports and it is ‘The King’; and all that he has achieved. We want to live up to that,” stated Almirola. “We want to get back to these productive techniques that they have had for so several years. Clearly we have been by means of some tough instances and we are clawing our way back to exactly where we need to have to be and we see the light now.
“It was pretty dark a few many years in the past, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and if we continue to run like me and Marcos have run, in the top 5 and prime 10 and tough and foremost races and difficult to win races, you can only do that so numerous occasions just before you commence winning races.”
Petty, a Hall of Famer, won 200 races and 7 championships for Petty Enterprises. The organization has won just 3 races considering that John Andretti’;s 1999 victory and went through a 10-year losing streak.
The organization has not won considering that 2012, but an offseason dedication from sponsor Smithfield helped RPM add personnel and invest in tools, testing, and study and advancement.
People gains have been evident by means of the first 6 races of the season. Ambrose is 14th and Almirola is 26th, in component due to the fact of 2 accidents Almirola was involved in. Every driver has 2 best-10 finishes, Ambrose has 2 top 5s and Almirola completed a career-greatest third at Bristol.
It’;s the ideal commence in 6 Sprint Cup seasons for Ambrose, and it comes a year after Almirola raced out of the gates, when RPM was unwell-equipped to have the 2 teams competing at the exact same level.
“I am never ever pleased when we go to the race track and the 2 cars are as distant apart as they have been last yr with Aric running in the best 10 and Marcos struggling and crashing and just not finishing races and getting where we required to be,” said RPM competitors director Sammy Johns. “This yr, with the extra engineering we have extra and the personnel and equipment, we are in a position to have each automobiles operating together on the race track and working the best with each other that I have ever witnessed the 2 of them work on the race track.
Ambrose credits the enhanced dedication to testing, and the growth of his connection with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, who joined RPM in late 2012, and invested this previous offseason producing personnel moves that have strengthened the group.
“This company is all about particulars. You aren’;t going to do it with a 25-pound spring adjust on race day you will do it by everyone possessing the attention to detail and commitment to getting the greatest they can,” Ambrose mentioned. “You have to rally the troops around your staff and there are a lot of men and women that perform a component in our accomplishment on Sunday and we are very mindful of that, and Drew is fantastic at obtaining people up and acquiring them committed.”
Almirola has a new crew chief in Trent Owens, who guided Kyle Larson in the Nationwide Series last season at Turner Scott Motorsports. Though Owens is Richard Petty’;s nephew, Almirola and Johns had to work tough to lure him to RPM.
“He was becoming courted by a number of other teams but we were in a position to get it done and we received him in excess of here on our crew and I truly feel like we stole the very best crew chief out of the Nationwide garage,” Almirola mentioned.
If RPM can sustain this efficiency, win a race or 2 and possibly even a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, the drivers believe it would be a significant payback to Petty.
“This is the a single spot I have come to drive a race auto that made me feel like portion of the household,” Almirola explained. “That is the way they run their operation and race group. It has been a household run enterprise because the ’;40s and ’;50s and it is nevertheless that way right now. Richard comes in here and puts his arm close to everybody and can make them really feel like they are a portion of the Petty loved ones.”
Signal up to have the Autoweek Daily Racing report, Racing Weekend Wrap-Up, Every day Drive and Breaking News delivered correct to your inbox.