Apr 26, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT
For the first time since the passing of his wife, Lynda, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty has returned to the track this weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
And with “The King” present once again, his “knights” at Richard Petty Motorsports – Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola – will both be pushing even harder to get good results in tonight’s Toyota Owners 400.
RPM has put up a strong effort so far this season on the short tracks, so the 3/4-mile Richmond bullring could play into their favor this evening.
In the most recent short track race last month at Martinsville, Ambrose earned a fifth-place finish and Almirola claimed eighth on the half-mile paperclip.
And earlier in March at the high-banked half-mile of Bristol, Almirola was part of a 1-2-3 sweep for Ford thanks to a third-place run while Ambrose wasn’t far behind in fifth.
Going into the weekend, Almirola put down tire management as a key to doing well tonight at RIR.
“The fun thing about Richmond is that the tires fall off really bad,” he said in a release. “You get slipping and sliding around and forward drive is really important. It’s the one race track we go to that you wish you didn’t have 900 horsepower. Halfway through a tire run, we literally can spin the tires at the flag stand. That just becomes a huge challenge.
“…We’ve really hit on our short track setups this year and shown a lot of speed. If we can keep that up this weekend, we will be able to make a run at a win.”
As for Ambrose, he’ll have even more incentive to perform well as he’ll claim a $1 million donation for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with a win tonight.
A runner-up performance will secure a $500,000 donation to CMNH, while a third-place result will secure a $250,000 donation.
“It would be the highlight of my career to be able to win this Saturday night for these kids,” Ambrose said about the challenge.