Columbus mover E.E. Ward Moving & Storage and North American Van Lines are the official moving partners for RichardPetty Motorsports. Follow the Xfinity team race series with us as we anticipate the E.E. Ward sponsorship of Armstrong’s car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup May Dover race.
A potentially great day for Dakoda Armstrong and the No. 43 WinField Ford team came to an end after the “Big One” threw a wrench in the proverbial spoke. The team fought hard throughout the afternoon, reaching third with help from a great pit stop and well-timed caution. The No. 43 WinField Ford Mustang ran strong at the front of the pack during a long green flag run. Unfortunately, in true Talladega fashion, the day took a turn for the worse. As the laps wound down, a large wreck occurred that Armstrong was unable to avoid, and the No. 43 WinField Ford suffered a cut tire and damage to both fenders, bumper, and splitter. The team was able to repair the car and maintain a spot on the lead lap. However, just as the race restarted, the car directly in front of Armstrong lost an engine. Armstrong moved to the outside to avoid the slowing car and was penalized for an improper restart, forcing him to serve a pass-through penalty with four laps to go. Armstrong finished in the 22nd position. Armstrong is currently 16th in the Championship Points Standings.
Armstrong started the race from the 13th position but fell outside of the top 20 after getting shuffled out of the draft due to a car checking up at the start of the race. Before the field could complete the second lap, the caution flag waved for a wreck on the backstretch. Armstrong stayed out and restarted in the 21st position. Shortly after the restart, the field split into two packs. Armstrong rode around in the second pack in 28th position, playing a safe strategy to have extra room to attempt to miss a wreck. On Lap 35, Crew Chief Frankie Kerr told Armstrong to pit with the leaders under green. The WinField Crew changed right-side tires, topped off the fuel tank, and made a small chassis adjustment. As Armstrong left the pit road and rejoined the field, the caution flag flew on Lap 40 for the second time in the race. Since Armstrong already pit two laps prior, he stayed out. The rest of the field had to pit which moved the No. 43 Ford into the eighth position.
The race restarted on Lap 46 with Armstrong in the eighth position. The No. 43 was fast in the draft and quickly gained five positions in two laps. The No. 43 WinField Ford progressed to the third position and maintained it over the long, green-flag run. The first four cars formed an impenetrable single-file line. No one could overtake them, regardless of which line they ran. On Lap 74, the leaders signaled to those behind them they would come down to the pit. As the front runners slowed to enter the pit lane, the cars behind them checked up. Some cars couldn’t slow in time; causing a large wreck. The caution came out just as the leaders entered the pit road. The Winfield Crew changed four tires and topped off the fuel tank. The race went under red flag conditions for eight minutes due to the extensive cleanup needed after the multi-car wreck.
The race restarted on Lap 82 with Armstrong in the 18th position. Kerr told Armstrong to get back to the front as quickly as possible and try to stay in the bottom lane since it had been the most effective throughout the day. A few slower cars held up the line after the restart, and Armstrong lost two positions dropping to 20th, before a caution on Lap 84 for debris. Armstrong stayed out with Kerr instructing him to save as much fuel as possible. The race went back to green on Lap 87. Even though Armstrong lost two positions, it put him in a different row on the restart then the slower cars that held him up. In a matter of two laps, Armstrong moved up to the 12th position making his way back to the front of the field.
The caution flag flew again on Lap 90 for a wreck on the backstretch. Armstrong stayed out during the yellow and saved fuel. The field went back to green on Lap 93. Armstrong restarted on the outside lane in the 12th position. The higher lane stalled throughout the day, making it difficult to pass. As the race neared conclusion, drivers were more aggressive with their efforts to pass. On Lap 99, a miscalculated move by a car in front of Armstrong caused a seven-car wreck, collecting the No. 43 WinField Ford. The caution flag flew as Armstrong limped the car back to the pits. The car had a flat, left-front tire and damage to both fenders, the bumper, and the splitter. The WinField Crew worked on the car throughout the caution, calling Armstrong to the pits three times to repair the damage. The crew did a great job with effective repairs and kept Armstrong on the lead lap.
The race restarted on Lap 106 with Armstrong in the 21st position. As the field came to the start/finish line, the car directly in front of Armstrong blew its engine and slowed drastically in front of him. Armstrong moved to the outside to avoid the car. Unfortunately, he made the move to the outside before the start/finish line. NASCAR dictates that during restarts no cars can pass until they reach the start/finish line. Armstrong was black-flagged for an improper restart and had to serve a pass-through penalty under green flag conditions. The penalty separated Armstrong from the draft. He finished in 22nd position, the final car on the lead lap. Armstrong falls one spot to 16th in the Championship Points Standings.
“Today was a roller coaster,” said Armstrong. “We qualified well and started the race in a good spot. Then, we were shuffled back and played it safely running near the rear when the field split into two packs. We came into the pit and had a great stop and caught the caution flag just right. We ended up with a great track position and ran in third for a solid chunk of the race. As we were coming onto pit road for our next stop, it seemed like the whole field just started to wreck around us. The day just fell apart after that. It was a very typical day at Talladega. We had a great car and could have competed for the win but luck just didn’t fall our way today. It’s very frustrating.”
We wish Dakoda Armstrong luck as he continues on in the Xfinity Series at Iowa Speedway on May 17.