Almirola gets new crew chief on No. 43 team
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (September 13, 2016) - Richard Petty Motorsports today announced more competition changes in a continued effort to improve their on-track performance. Effectively immediately, Drew Blickensderfer will take over the crew chief responsibilities for the No. 43 Ford Fusion previously held by Trent Owens . Owens will be reassigned a position within the company. Late last month, RPM leadership started an aggressive strategy to improve speed, performance and future growth of RPM. The goal is to improve on-track results from 2016 and to capitalize on the progress made in previous seasons. Blickensderfer, who most recently served as Director of Research and Development with RPM, has a proven history of winning and been a valued employee at RPM for the last four years. Blickensderfer, who brings nine years of Crew Chief experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, made his Crew Chief debut in 2009 at Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Since that time, he worked with 13 different drivers in both series and tallied 15 wins, including a Daytona 500 win in 2009, 16 Top-Five finishes and 104 Top-10 finishes. "We are continuing to analyze every part of our organizations and make adjustments where needed," said Brian Moffitt, Chief Executive Office, Richard Petty Motorsports . "We've made significant investments in both teams, and the results for the No. 43 team have not been what we expected. By making this change now, we hope that Drew (Blickensderfer) can begin momentum to improving on-track performance and get the team in a good place for the 2017 season. Trent Owens has been a valued member of our organization and will continue to play a significant role with Richard Petty Motorsports ." The No. 43 team and Aric Almirola have seen success on the track in recent seasons with the team's most consistent season together and highest average finish to date in 2015. They were also a race winning team in 2014 and competed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Blickensderfer will begin his duties at the track in Chicago this weekend.
Almirola meets with NASCAR officials at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Aric Almirola and crew chief Trent Owens met with NASCAR officials after the completion of Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway . The post-race meeting was at the sanctioning body's request. Almirola and Owens met with officials to discuss a Lap 437 accident involving the Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). Almirola's No. 43 Ford eventually came to rest after being struck by the Truex entry. But rather than drop his window net to signify that he was not injured, Almirola apparently no longer had reverse gear in his car and wanted a push from the emergency crew. Almirola eventually finished 34th. He and Owens and others that met with officials left without commenting to the media. NASCAR officials would only say that the reason for the meeting was the driver's "failure to follow proper protocol following his incident on the track."
Almirola hopes late-season momentum carries over
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Post a couple of top-10 finishes and folks call it a coincidence. String several together, however, and it begins to look like a trend. That's what NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Aric Almirola is counting on these days. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has posted four top-10 finishes in his last five outings, including a pair of top-five results. Almirola, 31, enters Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2:15 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Kansas Speedway having failed to qualify for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . But he's not out of contention for possible race wins. His recent efforts in the familiar No. 43 Ford have told him as much. A fourth at Richmond, 10th at Chicagoland, fifth at Dover and 10th again at Charlotte with only a 43rd-place finish at New Hampshire marring an otherwise consistent string of finishes. So do Almirola and his team see the competitive turn as a trend? "I do," he said Friday just before qualifying got underway. "I feel like we've really hit on some stuff that's really working for me, the cars have been driving good, we've had real good long-run speed for the last six weeks and that's paid off for us. "We still have to work on our cars to find some short-run speed, and really run some fast laps but ... the way our cars have been racing has been really good. I think we're on to something." Although he narrowly missed qualifying for the 10-race Chase, Almirola sits 17th in points -- highest among those who failed to earn one of this year's 16 berths. He finished 11th at Kansas when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visited the 1.5-mile track earlier this season. Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead round out the remaining races on this year's Sprint Cup schedule. "You hope it's a trend, right?" said crew chief Trent Owens . "Recently I think we've gotten maybe just a little bit more speed in our cars. It's not necessarily one thing I'm doing. "I think we were really bummed we didn't get in the Chase because we felt like we were in all year. We felt like we did what we were supposed to do to earn a spot on points if we didn't win. We had an unfortunate engine situation at Pocono, and a crash at Indy. ... A couple of events just put us out." Darlington, where Almirola finished 11th, was good even though it was with an aerodynamic package that won't be used again until 2016. At Richmond "we put our best effort in there," and scored a top-five, Owens noted. That momentum carried over into a test at Kansas where he said the team "found a few items that might help our cars on the mile-and-a -halves." Chicago was solid as was Charlotte, where the team had struggled. "That kind of said, 'yeah, we might be doing the right thing,' " said Owens . Beyond the Team Penske entries of 2012 champion Brad Keselowski (one win) and teammate Joey Logano (four wins), the 2015 season hasn't been particularly memorable for many of those in the Ford camp. Roush Fenway Racing failed to place one of its three teams in the Chase for the first time since the format debuted in 2004. And Sam Hornish Jr ., Almirola's teammate, has only three top-10 results on the year. Almirola's improved finishing positions have yet to include a surge in leading laps -- he's led only three all season. But he knows his team is getting better each week. "Honestly, you just compare yourself to the competition, right? And I think even the best car in the field probably has some issues. He's probably a little tight in the center or what have you," Almirola said. "But he's doing it running faster than everyone else. ... "I think relative to the competition we have improved the handling of our cars and the way our cars are performing ... during race conditions." The simple answer, Owens said, is that the team needs faster race cars to lead laps and to "get to that next level." "If you asked someone to name the race teams in order, we are a middle-of-the-road race team when you talk about people size, money, resources," he said. "It's hard to make that jump all the way to first. You can make that jump from 20th to 10th. But to get to fifth and to get to first, dominate races and lead laps, that's a pretty big step, not just people-wise, but money-wise and resources." Almirola will start 23rd Sunday. It's been 48 races since his last, and so far only, victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Progress has come slowly. But expectations are rising for Almirola and everyone on the team. "When you go through a stretch where you run 20th and you just can't seem to find the speed, every weekend you go to the airport and you're ... not necessarily excited but you're kind of hopeful," he said. "It's like, 'I'm not sure if Santa is real, but I hope he is.' "Then when you start running good, you get excited to get on the plane on Thursdays and go to the race track because you've got some momentum on your side. "You feel like you're just maybe a few small things away from being able to go up there and compete to win races."
Reactions to Jeff Gordon's win at Martinsville
RELATED: Recap the race at Martinsville " Chase bubble watch post-Martinsville Jeff Gordon won Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway , his first victory of the season and his ninth career at the .526-mile oval. Doing so clinched a spot in the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway and ensures, in his final full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Gordon will enter the finale in championship contention. Here's how NASCAR Nation reacted: Seeing @JeffGordonWeb win today was the highlight of the 2015 NASCAR season. #respect — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) November 1, 2015 Congrats @JeffGordonWeb , crew chief Alan Gustafson, and all of @TeamHendrick on a win @MartinsvilleSwy and a shot at the @HomesteadMiami — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 2, 2015 That is so freaking cool. Wow. — Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) November 1, 2015 What a win for @jeffgordonweb so much fight left in that 24 team. Can't wait to see them battle for the Championship in Homestead #unreal — Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) November 1, 2015 This is how we celebrate in our house @ErinEvernham pic.twitter.com/z0Kj9TDx9Z — ray evernham (@RayEvernham) November 1, 2015 Decent day for us at martinsville. Made too many mistakes towards the end of the race. So pumped for @JeffGordonWeb !!! — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) November 1, 2015 Chants of "thank you jeff" pouring out of this crowd! #Legend #Championship4 -JW — Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) November 1, 2015 Congrats to @JeffGordonWeb and HMS on the win! Go get that championship! — Amy Reimann (@Amy_Reimann) November 1, 2015 That is a very cool win! Congrats to @JeffGordonWeb — Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) November 1, 2015 Might have been his last few years but it's cool to say I watched a legend growing up. Congrats JG. #HERO — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) November 1, 2015 Cool to see @JeffGordonWeb win and make it to final round in @NASCAR Chase Championship. Great way to close out an incredible career. — Michael McDowell (@Mc_Driver) November 1, 2015 Why we all love our sport, all the fans staying for victory lane celebration! @MartinsvilleSwy great crowd today pic.twitter.com/VQ9zyj9E0W — Trent Owens (@wtrentowens) November 1, 2015 Tough ending to our good stretch of races but we will go get them in the next 3 starting at Texas. Pretty cool seeing @JeffGordonWeb win — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) November 1, 2015 It was cool seeing @JeffGordonWeb get a win at Martinsville in his last start there. — Austin Theriault (@AustinTheriault) November 1, 2015 As a long time fan and hero of mine. So badass to see @JeffGordonWeb win Martinsville and have a shot for his 5th at Homestead. Get it. — AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) November 2, 2015
Sprint All-Star Race entry list
See which drivers are set to compete in Saturday night's race Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Matt McCall 15 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 15 Ford Miller Lite 3 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 15 Chevrolet Hunt Brothers Pizza 4 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Keith Rodden 15 Chevrolet Time Warner Cable 5 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Dave Rogers 15 Toyota FedEx Express 6 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 15 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat 7 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Adam Stevens 15 Toyota M&M's Red Nose Day 8 19 Carl Edwards J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 15 Toyota ARRIS 9 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 15 Toyota Dollar General 10 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 15 Ford Shell Pennzoil 11 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 15 Chevrolet Axalta 12 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 15 Chevrolet Cat/Quicken Loans 13 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Tony Gibson 15 Chevrolet Haas Automation 14 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 15 Ford Smithfield 15 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 15 Chevrolet Kingsford 16 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 15 Chevrolet Lowe's Patriotic 17 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Greg Ives 15 Chevrolet Mountain Dew Baja Blast
Ford EcoBoost 400 entry list
See who will compete in the Sprint Cup Series season finale RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Keith Rodden 14 Chevrolet Cessna 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 14 Ford Miller Lite 3 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Gil Martin 14 Chevrolet Dow 4 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 14 Chevrolet Budweiser 5 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Kenny Francis 14 Chevrolet Great Clips 6 7 Michael Annett Tommy Baldwin Kevin Manion 14 Chevrolet Pilot Flying J 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Drew Blickensderfer 14 Ford STANLEY 8 10 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Daniel Knost 14 Chevrolet Florida Lottery / GoDaddy 9 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 14 Toyota FedEx Express 10 13 Casey Mears Bob Germain Bootie Barker III 14 Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 11 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 14 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 12 15 Clint Bowyer Rob Kauffman Brian Pattie 14 Toyota 5-Hour Energy 13 16 Greg Biffle Jack Roush Matt Puccia 14 Ford 3M 14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr John Henry Michael Kelley 14 Ford Fastenal 15 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Dave Rogers 14 Toyota M&M's 16 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 14 Toyota Dollar General 17 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Glen Wood Donnie Wingo 14 Ford Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 18 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 14 Ford Shell Pennzoil 19 23 Alex Bowman Ron Devine Dave Winston 14 Toyota Dip Your Car 20 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 14 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 21 26 Cole Whitt Anthony Marlowe Randy Cox 14 Toyota Speed Stick Gear 22 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Justin Alexander 14 Chevrolet Richmond / Menards 23 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 14 Chevrolet Caterpillar 24 32 Blake Koch(i) Frank Stoddard Jr Clinton Cram 14 Ford LeafFilter.com 25 33 Brian Scott(i) Joe Falk Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet TBA 26 34 David Ragan Bob Jenkins Derrick Finley 14 Ford The Pete Store 27 36 Reed Sorenson Allan Heinke Todd Parrott 14 Chevrolet TBA 28 38 David Gilliland Brad Jenkins Jay Guy 14 Ford MDS TRANSPORT 29 40 Landon Cassill(i) Michael Hillman Mark Hillman 14 Chevrolet Harvey Gulf 30 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Tony Gibson 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 31 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Chris Heroy 14 Chevrolet Target 32 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 14 Ford Smithfield Foods 33 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 14 Chevrolet Hungry Jack 34 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 14 Chevrolet Lowe's 35 51 Justin Allgaier Harry Scott Jr Steve Addington 14 Chevrolet BRANDT 36 55 Brian Vickers Michael Waltrip Billy Scott 14 Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 37 66 Brett Moffitt Jay Robinson Scott Eggleston 14 Toyota TBA 38 78 Martin Truex Jr Barney Visser Todd Berrier 14 Chevrolet Furniture Row 39 83 TBA Ron Devine Joe Williams 14 Toyota Dip Your Car 40 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Steve Letarte 14 Chevrolet National Guard 41 95 Michael McDowell Bob Leavine Wally Rogers 14 Ford KLOVE Radio/Thrivent Financial 42 98 Josh Wise Mike Curb Gene Nead 14 Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing 43 99 Carl Edwards Jack Roush James Fennig 14 Ford Fastenal MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Sylvania 300 entry list
See which drivers will run at the Sprint Cup Series' second stop at Loudon RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Keith Rodden 14 Chevrolet Belkin/WEMO 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 14 Ford Miller Lite 3 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Gil Martin 14 Chevrolet Cheerios 4 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 14 Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 5 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Kenny Francis 14 Chevrolet Time Warner Cable 6 7 Michael Annett Tommy Baldwin Kevin Manion 14 Chevrolet Feed the Children Chevrolet 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Drew Blickensderfer 14 Ford STANLEY 8 10 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Tony Gibson 14 Chevrolet GoDaddy 9 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 14 Toyota FedEx Ground 10 13 Casey Mears Bob Germain Bootie Barker III 14 Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 11 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 14 Chevrolet Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 12 15 Clint Bowyer Rob Kauffman Brian Pattie 14 Toyota 5-Hour Energy 13 16 Greg Biffle Jack Roush Matt Puccia 14 Ford Ortho 14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr John Henry Michael Kelley 14 Ford EcoPower Oil 15 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Dave Rogers 14 Toyota M&M's 16 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 14 Toyota Dollar General 17 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 14 Ford Shell Pennzoil 18 23 Alex Bowman Ron Devine Dave Winston 14 Toyota Dr. Pepper Toyota 19 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 14 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 20 26 Cole Whitt Anthony Marlowe Randy Cox 14 Toyota Rinnai 21 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Slugger Labbe 14 Chevrolet Sylvania / Menards 22 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 14 Chevrolet Quicken Loans 23 32 Timmy Hill Frank Stoddard Jr Ben Leslie 14 Ford US Chrome 24 33 David Stremme Joe Falk Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 25 34 David Ragan Bob Jenkins Jay Guy 14 Ford TACO BELL 26 36 Reed Sorenson Allan Heinke Todd Parrott 14 Chevrolet American Muscle Driving Experience Chevrolet 27 38 David Gilliland Brad Jenkins Frank Kerr 14 Ford CLEAN HARBORS 28 40 Landon Cassill(i) Michael Hillman Mark Hillman 14 Chevrolet Snap Fitness 29 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Daniel Knost 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 30 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Chris Heroy 14 Chevrolet Target 31 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 14 Ford Smithfield 32 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 14 Chevrolet Bush's Beans 33 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 14 Chevrolet Lowe's 34 51 Justin Allgaier Harry Scott Jr Steve Addington 14 Chevrolet PlanBSales.com 35 55 Brian Vickers Michael Waltrip Billy Scott 14 Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 36 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Jay Robinson Scott Eggleston 14 Toyota Land Castle Title 37 77 Corey Lajoie(i) Randy Humphrey Steve Lane 14 Ford Fochler Veterans Law 38 78 Martin Truex Jr Barney Visser Todd Berrier 14 Chevrolet Furniture Row 39 83 Ryan Truex Ron Devine Joe Williams 14 Toyota Burger King Toyota 40 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Steve Letarte 14 Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew 41 93 Travis Kvapil Wayne Press Doug Richert 14 Toyota Iowa City Capital Partners Toyota 42 98 Josh Wise Mike Curb Gene Nead 14 Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing 43 99 Carl Edwards Jack Roush James Fennig 14 Ford Aflac MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
NASCAR adds extra time for inspections
Reacting to Atlanta, sanctioning body tweaks West Coast schedule
Season preview: Aric Almirola
Richard Petty Motorsports driver aims to build on season of firsts in 2015
2013 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Inductee: Cotton Owens
Cotton Owens may have only had nine wins as a driver, but he was known for being a team owner for a group that included David Pearson and Junior Johnson. Owens died just days after he was announced as a member of the 2013 class.