Quick! When was the last time the legendary #43 visited Victory Lane in a Sprint Cup Race. The answer is kind of tricky, but never. I thought I had been at the race the last time Richard Petty’s iconic car was a winner, but after looking it up, I was wrong.
John Andretti won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway in the final July race that was run in the daytime, but he won again in 1998 at Martinsville. Of course, it was a Winston Cup race, and not a Sprint Cup or Nextel Cup race.
Now that Aric Almirola has a year in the Ford Fusion, and has been assigned Todd Parrott as his new crew chief, I am expecting a win for the 29 year old driver from Tampa, Florida during the upcoming 2013 season. Almirola had a decent 2012 in his first year in the Ford, and got one poll, that coming at the Memorial Day Coca Cola 600 in May. He had 9 top ten starts, all he needs to do now is learn how to finish. That is what Todd Parrott will help the youngster with.
Almirola had only one top 5 finish in 2012, that coming at Martinsville at the Tums Fast Relief 400 in October where he finished 4th. He did have four top 10 finishes, the last one coming at Homestead where he finished seventh in the season finale. He looked to have some momentum going after not having a top ten since the Autism Speaks 400 in June where he finished in 6th place.
With a 2012 average start at 16.2, and average finish at 20.0, shows he has the qualifying thing down pretty good, but doesn’t seem to know how to close. This is the same problem that has plagued the King’s teams for years. I don’t know if it is a lack of budget that hampers the Petty cars, or just drivers that are inexperienced. I would like to think Richard Petty has worked with the youngster, and maybe the lack of a budget has been the problem.
With the 2012 season being Almirola’s first full season in the car, I think we will see a a vastly improved effort in 2013. Aric has shown the ability to run the short tracks with some consistency, but struggles on the 1.5 mile tracks. Unfortunately, these are the lion’s share of the venues that NASCAR runs. He has also shown some promise on the restrictor plate tracks, with a little more success at Talladega than Daytona.
I think this is a young driver with plenty of talent to win, and am expecting him to get a win in 2013, and probably before his teammate Marcos Ambrose gets a circle track win. 2013 will see the return of Richard Petty and the #43 to Victory Lane.
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