Indy ORP: Aric Almirola race report

Key Motorsports' Top-15 Streak Continues With Aric Almirola at ORP Key Motorsports scored its third consecutive top-15 finish this weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. With Aric Almirola back behind the wheel of the No. 40 Westerman...

Key Motorsports' Top-15 Streak Continues With Aric Almirola at ORP

Key Motorsports scored its third consecutive top-15 finish this weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. With Aric Almirola back behind the wheel of the No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet, the team had a consistently strong weekend, earning a 14th place finish in the Kroger 200 and bumping the Key entry up another spot in the NNS owner points.

The No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet was fast out of the box at O'Reilly Raceway Park, running 16th on the speed charts in the only practice of the rainy afternoon. Fortunately, the rain clouds held off for the remainder of the day, allowing Aric Almirola to lay down a 22.618-second qualifying lap, good enough for 13th on the starting grid.

Taking the green flag, Almirola immediately proved just how fast the Westerman Companies Chevrolet was in race trim. Battling for 11th place on lap 11, Almirola broke into the top-10 by lap 27, running as high as 9th in the third green flag run of the evening.

As day transitioned to night and the 0.686-mile oval began to cool, the handling of the No. 40 began to fall off slightly. Fighting a tight condition, Almirola had slipped back to 16th when the third caution of the night waved on lap 36. With cars filing onto pit road for the first time that evening, Almirola stopped for four tires, fuel, and an adjustment, but the long stop resulted in a huge loss of track position.

Restarting 30th on lap 44, Almirola had his work cut out for him, but he quickly navigated through traffic now that the Westerman Companies machine was adjusted for the cooler track conditions. Almirola passed four of his competitors in as many laps, and when the next caution came out on lap 50, he'd already made up every position lost on pit road.

Almirola restarted 16th on lap 54 and continued his march to the front of the pack, working his way up to 12th in only 20 laps and maintaining his position until the field saw the yellow flag on lap 92. Unfortunately, after bringing the No. 40 into the pits for fresh tires and fuel, Almirola once again lost positions on pit road, restarting 19th at the race's halfway point.

In the longest green flag run of the night, Almirola used the next 72 laps to work his way through the field, reaching the 15th position. Though he was passed by the leader at the end of the run, Almirola was the first car one lap down when the field received the final caution of the night, earning the free pass. Back on the lead lap, Almirola battled hard for the final 25 laps of the race, crossing the start/finish line in 14th place.

Curtis Key's No. 40 moves up to 22nd in the NNS owner standings after this weekend's 14th place finish at O'Reilly Raceway Park. The Key Motorsports Chevrolet now sits 297 points ahead of 30th place.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its inaugural visit to Iowa Speedway this Saturday. Aric Almirola will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 40 for the U.S. Cellular 250 presented by Northland Oil and TMC Trucking.

-credit: km

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Aric Almirola