Big Day (and Night) for RPM

RPM

Almirola’s third-place finish was his best career Sprint Cup Series effort and Ambrose coming home fifth gave RPM two cars in the top five for only the fourth time under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner since 2009. (Photo: Getty Images)

Audio: Almirola On "Motorsports Monday"

Richard Petty Motorsports drivers Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose both finished inside the top five in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Almirola’s third-place finish was his best career Sprint Cup Series effort and Ambrose coming home fifth gave RPM two cars in the top five for only the fourth time under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner since 2009.

Late in the race, Almirola found himself in the thick of a battle for the lead and potential victory with eventual winner Carl Edwards and runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Although he faded just a bit in the closing laps, Almirola was more than pleased with where he finished in the race that ended under the lights after a rain delay of more than three hours.

"It was a great day for us and I’m not disappointed at all with third," he said.  "But when you see it, you can taste it and it’s that close, you wonder what could have gone differently.  If our car would have taken off a little bit better, things might have gone differently but all in all, it was a great day.

"It feels good.  You want to win.  I saw it right there at my fingertips on that one restart, when I raced side-by-side with Carl, but he had a lot better car than we did."

New crew chief Trent Owens made some huge adjustments on the No. 43 Ford during the course of the weekend and Almirola credited him with how well the team has performed in the early part of the season.

"When we brought Trent over, we thought he would come with some new ideas," Almirola said.  "Everybody's been working hard to get our cars better and I feel like we have some really good cars right now."

Ambrose echoed Almirola’s words and feels that the RPM organization is providing cars capable of competing like the duo did in Bristol.  The intense racing forced Ambrose to take a very aggressive approach to what turned out to be a fifth-place performance.

"These cars go a lot faster around this track than the old-style cars and we had to really dig in," Ambrose said.  "The groove went to the fence, and we had to watch ourselves there and keep adjusting the car all night.  We got a bad set of tires, where they delaminated and started to cord really bad, so we lost a lap and then worked our way back up to the front."

As the Sprint Cup Series now heads to Auto Club Speedway this week for the fifth race of the season, Ambrose is 15th in the point standings with Almirola 20th.

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