It might’ve required a good bit of survival, but JR Motorsports’ two entrants – Kasey Kahne in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com/Verisign Chevrolet and Aric Almirola in the No. 88 GT Vodka Chevrolet – avoided late-race attrition to score top-five finishes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series New England 200 Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It marks the first time this year both JRM cars finished with top-fives in the same race. Almirola, who finished fifth, scores his second top-five of the season and ninth top 10. [...]Read More
“One of the coolest aspects about Phoenix is that it’s a mile track, but it races like a short track. Most everyone in this series grew up racing short tracks, so it will be familiar territory. You’ll see some close-quarters racing and it can get pretty dicey at times because the track gets slick.
“I’ll take any chance I can to race, so I’m grateful to be running triple duty through the end of the year. But I’m still focused on helping Pops (Eury Sr.) and this GT Vodka team prepare for a championship run next season, so we need to do our best to make that a reality this weekend and next.”
“It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me. I’ve been running trucks and Cup for the past couple weeks, and now I get to climb back in the GT Vodka Chevrolet at Texas. It was good to see the 88 team run well at Gateway. Josh (Wise) did a great job for them. They had a solid qualifying effort and ran well for the bulk of the race.
“It’s going to be triple duty for me at Texas this weekend. Doing double duty the past couple weeks has been a good experience, but running all three series will be a blast. I’ve raced at Texas in truck and Cup car before, but this will be my first in the Nationwide Series. At the very least, I’m really hoping to continue the GT Vodka team’s streak of top-10 finishes. If things go right, we’ll be able to contend for a top-five.”
“It’s no secret our entire GT Vodka team was disappointed after last week’s race. We were racing hard for position toward the end there, and we just came out on the bad side of it. I hate we tore up a good race car in the process. But that’s in the past, and we’ve got a clean slate heading to California.
“In the two races I’ve been in the GT Vodka Chevrolet we’ve made some progress. I’m really getting a feel for how the team operates, and I think Pops (crew chief, Tony Eury, Sr.) and the guys are getting a handle on my driving style and what I’m looking for in the car. We’re definitely on the right track. If you look at ORP (O’Reilly Raceway Park) and Kansas, we’ve been running in the top-five most of the time, and we’ve been able to lead laps each race. This GT Vodka team is itching to get back to the regular success they had in 2009. I’m hoping we’re on our way to reaching that point. It’s our job to get things right over these last six races of the season so we can contend for a championship next year.”
Start – 5th / Finish – 2nd
Starting fifth, Almirola fought a loose condition in the early stages of the race and as a result dropped to 14th by lap 40.
Lap 46 saw the first cars drop to pit road for green-flag pit stops. The No. 88 cycled to first and led lap 57 before coming into the pits for four tires and fuel. The GT Vodka Chevrolet rolled back onto the track and settled into the 12th position.
A caution on lap 91 slowed the field for the third time in the race. Almirola and the GT Vodka team elected not to pit and as a result, cycled to second. The No. 88 took the restart behind the No. 00 of Martin Truex Jr. Almirola eventually reeled in and passed Truex and led two laps. However, the team still struggled with handling conditions and fell back several positions shortly after.
After a lap 194-restart the No. 88 ran in eighth when the No. 98 of Paul Menard made contact with the left rear of the GT Vodka machine, sending it tail first into the outside retaining wall. Almirola immediately brought the car to pit road to assess the damage, but the team could only salvage a 22nd-place finish on the day.
“I’m really disappointed for everyone on this GT Vodka team,” said Almirola. “These kinds of things are going to happen when you’re racing tight for positions at the end of a race. I just hate that we tore up a good race car in the process. We’ll keep our heads up and continue to remain focused heading to Fontana next week. It’s our job to get things in place over these next six races so we can run for a championship next year.”