Aric Almirola is listed as being the sixteenth driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Chase and he may be one of the four drivers eliminated after the first round.
The Championship Chase consists of ten races broken into four sections.The first three consist of three races each with the last being a one race shootout between four remaining Championship eligible drivers. Almirola may be listed last in the Chase but he can still make it.
Almirola still has a shot at moving onto the next round in the iconic No. 43 car from Richard Petty Motorsports but it’s a long shot. But… there’s still a chance. There are really two ways that the legendary Petty name can be associated with the Cup Championship this season.
The first way is for Almirola to carve out a win at Dover. It’s something the driver says can be done. And it may be the team’s only chance following a blown engine in the first race of the Chase at Chicagoland but an impressive sixth place finish at New Hampshire.
“I said all week the best thing we can do if we can’t win is we need to go and try to run top five,’’ Almirola said. “We ran sixth and we’ve got to try and put pressure on those other guys. We’re down, but we’re not out.’’
The Road So Far
Almirola entered the Championship Chase field of sixteen drivers with his win at the rain-shortened Firecracker 400 in July at Daytona International Speedway. The win put Richard Petty Motorsports back in Championship talk for the first time in many years. Since then the driver has made several good runs with competitive cars. That’s until the blown engine occurred at Chicagoland.
One week later at New Hampshire Almirola powered his No. 43 car past several Chase contenders that had problems such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch. Almirola kept his points gap close by finishing sixth. The hard fought finish keeps RPM in the mix but there’s no room for error at Dover. The race at Dover is the last race before the four bottom drivers are eliminated from the Championship field and Almirola says he's not throwing in the towel.
“We cut it down to a realistic possibility going to Dover,’’ said Almirola. “If we went to Dover 28 points out, we might as well go ahead and just throw in the towel, but that [sixth-place finish] was exactly what we needed.’’
Just Ten Points
The field of sixteen chase drivers’ narrows to only twelve after the race weekend at Dover which is also called the Monster Mile. The reason for the nick-name is that it’s a track known for swallowing up race cars. There’s a good chance that if Almirola can avoid the “monster” and have a good race then he can make the next round of the chase. The points between the current cut off twelfth place driver and Almirola in sixteenth place is only ten points.
All Arik Almirola needs to do is keep his No. 43 car clean and towards the front. At the same time other chase drivers need to have a bad day.That could happen; just ask any of the Chase drivers that suffered last weekend at New Hampshire.
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