Richard Petty Motorsports Raced With Heavy Hearts At Martinsville Speedway

by March 30, 2014

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Richard Petty Motorsports entered the STP 500 weekend at Martinsville Speedway with Lynda Petty on their minds, and in her honor, both teams captured a solid top-10 finish.

On Tuesday, Lynda Petty, wife of seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Richard Petty passed away peacefully in her home in Level Cross, N.C. Lynda was also the aunt of Aric Almirola’s crew chief, Trent Owens. Ironically, Almirola and the No. 43 team sported the old school STP paint scheme this weekend at Martinsville Speedway to celebrate STP’s 60th anniversary. Petty Blue ribbon pins were also worn by many members of the NASCAR community in honor of Lynda Petty, as well.

“Having these colors on is always cool, but with my aunt passing away this week and all the emotions flying around, it was pretty special to have STP colors this weekend and at least try to get her a win her, but maybe another day,” crew chief, Trent Owens said.

Aric Almirola who captured a third place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway and was taken out last weekend at Auto Club Speedway came home in the eighth position this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The team cracked the top-10 not long before the halfway mark and was able to work their way into the top-five. However, in the closing laps while battling his teammate, Marcos Ambrose for a top-five finish, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were able to slip by. With practice not being held on Saturday due to rain, the team felt like that may have been the difference between a top-10 and a winning result.

“Our car was very touchy to the clouds,” Aric Almirola said. “When it would cloud up my car would get real loose and then when the sun would come out, my car would get better and it would tighten out, but we bounced around on adjustments all day and couldn’t ever get the car balanced right. We would either be too tight or too loose and we really struggled for forward drive, which really hurt us on longer runs.  All-in-all, I’m still really proud of these guys.  Everybody on this STP Ford Fusion did a great job and we’ll take an eighth after last weekend, get some points back and keep going.”

Marcos Ambrose led 22 laps and spent the majority of his day well within the top-10, but the team had to make a little comeback around the halfway mark when cloud cover turned into sunshine. As the laps dissipated, Ambrose got into a groove and started to pick off the positions one at a time. After the hard fought day was all said and done, Ambrose finished fifth, tying his best finish of the season. Ambrose also finished fifth at Bristol Motor Speedway two weekends ago.

“We spent a lot of money and a lot of effort in getting Richard Petty Motorsports back on the map, and I think you’re seeing the results,” Marcos Ambrose said. “We’ve been fast for about four weeks in a row and we’re just starting to hit our stride. We’re gonna win one of these soon and lock ourselves in the Chase and feel good about our chances.”

With today’s top-five finish, Ambrose jumped up six spots to the 14th in the driver’s points standings. Even though Almirola had a top-10 finish, he stays 26th in the standings. Up next on the schedule is the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Last year, Almirola finished a strong seventh while Ambrose finished 19th.