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Aug 18, 2014 - 07:54 PM
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2014 Michigan II: Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Recap
Posted by: newsla on Aug 18, 2014 - 07:52 PM
2014 Michigan II: Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Recap

Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) competed in both Michigan and Ohio this past weekend with plenty of good news coming out of both states for the organization.


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On Saturday afternoon Dakoda Armstrong and his No. 43 WinField team earned their first Top-10 finish of the season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was Armstrong's best finish in the Nationwide Series in his career.

On Sunday, Marcos Ambrose raced in the Top-10 and finished 12th in his No. 9 Black and Decker Ford. The finish was the best for the team on an intermediate track this season.

Also, with Jeff Gordon winning Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, Aric Almirola and his No. 43 team have secured a spot in the The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. It's the second time that RPM has been in The Chase.

The teams now prepare for racing this weekend at the Bristol Motor Speedway with the focus on getting Ambrose into The Chase.

A recap of Sunday's race follows for both Sprint Cup teams:

Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Black and Decker Ford Fusion

Before the green dropped to start Sunday's 400-miler at Michigan, Ambrose told his crew, "We have a fast car so lets have a good day." Ambrose started 20th, but moved to 18th in the first 20 laps before a Competition Caution. The team came in and took two right-side tires only. On the restart a mutli-car wreck put the yellow flag out again and Ambrose restarted 14th.

As the race went back green, Ambrose had a great restart to move to 12th before racing in 13th during the run. Ambrose said the car was loose as the track conditions changed. Another caution then waved and the team stayed out with the leaders. On the restart, this time Ambrose was on the outside and was shuffled back to 21st. He had to now make up ground.

Making it more difficult, after the team made a pit stop for four tires and fuel, a vibration developed on the Black and Decker Ford. The reason was not of the teams doing.

Ambrose raced back into Top-25 after the pit stop and fell one lap down. However, the caution waved and Ambrose was the Lucky Dog and had moved back to 18th. The team made some adjustments under the caution and Ambrose was back to 15th with 75 laps left in the race.

The team continued to move forward too. With 30 laps left in the race, Ambrose was 12th after a caution. On the restart Ambrose moved to 10th before another caution waved for the final restart. In the closing laps, Ambrose tried to hang onto a Top-10, but fell to 12th at the end. It was still a day that Ambrose was proud of.

"We really wanted to get that Top-10," said Ambrose. "We will take this though. It's a big improvement for us here. This team really worked hard and we're getting our cars better. It gives us confidence for Atlanta and we should be really good at Bristol this weekend."

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Eckrich Ford

Almirola locked up a spot in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after securing a Top-30 position in Championship points and Jeff Gordon taking the checkered flag for the third time this season this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Almirola started the race from the 23rd spot. An early incident caused damage to the No. 43 Eckrich Ford, but the team rallied to finish 20th.

When the green flag dropped the No. 43 Eckrich Ford was extremely loose and had to pit early in the race. With a Competition Caution scheduled for Lap 20, the team was unable to add fuel during the stop. The Eckrich Ford restarted 42nd, and Almirola made a steady drive through the field. As the yellow flag flew for the Competition Caution, Almirola said the car was a lot better but still a little free, especially in dirty air.

Almirola restarted 26th on Lap 25. A multi-car wreck on the restart collected nine cars. During the incident, Almirola worked to miss the wreck but got into the back of the No. 20 and caused damage to the nose of the No. 43. He drove down pit road, and the Eckrich crew fixed the damage. Almirola restarted 30th and drove up to 23rd when NASCAR Officials called a caution for debris on Lap 38.

With most cars staying out, Almirola restarted 30th with more fuel than most of the field. He worked up to 23rd before cars began green-flag pit stops. Almirola stayed on track until Lap 77 when he gave up the second position to pit for four-tires and more adjustments. He returned to the track in the 19th position. About 10 laps later, the Eckrich Ford fell a lap down to the leader.

An accident on Lap 98 brought out the caution. The second car a lap down, Owens chose to take the wave around and return to the lead lap hoping for a quick caution. The caution never came, so Almirola came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment on Lap 120. The No. 43 Eckrich Ford returned to the track in the 23rd position, one lap down. As green flag pit stops began, Almirola drove into the 17th spot before pitting on Lap 158 with low fuel.

Almirola returned to the track in the 24th, two laps down. An accident on Lap 168 brought out the caution which allowed the team to take the wave around and restart 22nd, one lap down. A caution just two laps later for a spin allowed the team to make their final pit stop. Owens called for another four-tire stop and trackbar adjustment. Almirola restarted 21st, one lap down and drove into the 20th spot when the checkered flag dropped.

"We started the race really loose, and Trent (Owens) made a big swing during the first pit stop," said Almirola. "The adjustment really helped. Unfortunately, we got caught up in an accident early on and had some damage to the front-end which put us back in the field again. We continued to work our way to the front but got a lap down. The cautions didn't fall our way to get a lap back. I think we made some progress getting the car to handle better throughout the race. The good news is we locked into The Chase today. We'll spend the next few weeks really getting ready for The Chase. We have some tests scheduled and are really focused on getting through the first round."

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