After engine failure in the first race of the Chase, Aric Almirola is hoping to make a comeback.
LOUDON, NH – Aric Almirola received the diagnosis of his expired engine from Chicagoland Speedway – a broken exhaust valve.
Doug Yates, CEO and President of Roush Yates Racing Engines, delivered the news to Almirola earlier this week. Although Almirola has not had an issue since joining Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010, the same problem plagued both Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose in 2014.
For the first time Chase contender, hearing an explanation of the part failure doesn't make the reality any easier to accept.
They changed the way the valves were designed and thought that it wasn’t gonna be an issue anymore, and I guess it was again.
“It was the same thing that happened to the 22 (Logano) at Kentucky and the same thing that happened to the 9 (Ambrose) car at Atlanta,” said Almirola, who dropped to 16th in the point standings. “They’ve had a couple issues already this year and they thought they had it fixed. They changed the way the valves were designed and thought that it wasn’t gonna be an issue anymore, and I guess it was again.
"I talked to Doug and he was heartbroken for us. He was extremely apologetic, but it was nothing different than what we’ve been running the past couple months. My hat goes off to Doug Yates. He builds awesome horsepower for us. We went back and looked and it’s the first time we have not finished a race because of an engine failure in the three years I’ve been at Richard Petty Motorsports.”
Almirola was leading the Chase opener before his engine blew 37 laps short of the finish. He’s currently 52 points behind leader Brad Keselowski, but Almirola refuses to give up.
“Of all weekends for it to happen the first race of the Chase, why could it have not happened at Atlanta or Richmond or wherever else, but it is what it is,” Almirola said. “It just wasn’t meant to be. The stars didn’t line up right for us at Chicago, but we’ll rebound.”
Almirola's best finish at the Magic Mile is fifth in 2013. In eight starts at NHMS he has an average finish of 21.2.
“Hopefully, we can transfer to the next round because I feel like we’re extremely capable of racing with the Jimmie Johnsons and Jeff Gordons and those guys,” Almirola said. “We proved that at Chicago and we proved that the last few weeks coming off top-10s at Atlanta and Richmond. We’ve dug ourselves a big hole and we’ve got a couple weeks to try and dig ourselves back out.
“Even if we don’t transfer to the next round, at the end of the day we’re still racing to try and be fifth in points by the time we get to Homestead. So we’ve got a lot to race for no matter what the circumstances are.”