The Richard Petty Motorsports driver provided the only real drama during the last race of the regular season.
On paper, Aric Almirola’s last-chance dash for an improbable win to make the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup field didn’t appear all that close.
Almirola finished fourth in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway which left him 17 points shy of making the 16-driver field on points.
I am disappointed to come up a few spots short but we gave it all we had and that is all we can do.
With no victory in the first 25 races, Almirola’s only chance to make a second consecutive trip to the Chase rested in picking up enough points in Saturday’s race on Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer, that last two drivers in the field.
That was always going to be a tall order.
Flying through the field
On the track, however, Almirola’s charge from a lap down early in the race into contention for the win provided some of the most entertaining aspects of the race, which was dominated by Matt Kenseth.
“It is tough. This is what we race for. We race to win races. We race to run for a championship. This race team, we got to do it last year and we had an engine failure at Chicago and feel like we had a lot more to show in the Chase last year,” Almirola said.
“We wanted another shot at it really bad. We have a really, really good race team and I’m disappointed we didn’t get Smithfield and Ford into the Chase again.”
Almirola’s fourth-place finish came somewhat as a surprise as it was just his second top-five finish of the season. He was fifth at Dover, Del., in June.
All he had
“We worked our guts out all year long and tonight was no different. I feel we have overachieved this year and really maximized our results week in and week out,” Almirola said. “I am disappointed to come up a few spots short but we gave it all we had and that is all we can do.”
So, what’s next for Almirola after coming up short in making the Chase?
“We will go race these last 10 races and try to get a victory,” he said. “Winning is good no matter when it is, regardless of the Chase or not, we will try to go stink up the show and get some wins in the last 10 races.”