Updated Sep 13, 2015 at 12:26a ET
Richmond, Va. —
Give Aric Almirola, crew chief Trent Owens and the rest of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team credit for not going down without a fight.
Almirola, who last year made the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time, was the first man out this year, finishing 16 points behind Clint Bowyer in the battle for the 16th and final Chase slot.
Despite coming up short at making NASCAR's playoffs, Almirola and his team put up a whale of an effort in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, where he finished fourth behind race-winner Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
The result was Almirola's best finish of the year and only his second top five, but it still stung to come close but come up short of making the Chase.
"It is tough," said Almirola. "This is what we race for. We race to win races. We race to run for a championship. This race team, we got to do it last year and we had an engine failure at Chicago and feel like we had a lot more to show in the Chase last year. We wanted another shot at it really bad. We have a really, really good race team, and I am disappointed we didn't get Smithfield and Ford into the Chase again."
Still, Almirola could hold his head high despite the heartbreak of coming up short.
"I am really proud of all my guys," Almirola said. "We worked our guts out all year long, and tonight was no different. I feel we have overachieved this year and really maximized our results week in and week out. I am disappointed to come up a few spots short, but we gave it all we had and that is all we can do.
"We will go race these last 10 races and try to get a victory. Winning is good no matter when it is, regardless of the Chase or not. We will try to go stink up the show and get some wins in the last 10 races."