Sunday, October 14, 2018

Aric Almirola wins at Talladega

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs


by Courtney Horn

Aric Almirola earned his way into the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with his win on Sunday during the 50th annual 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Super Speedway.

Almirola snapped a 149-race winless streak dating back to July 6, 2014, when he won at Daytona International Speedway.

“We kinda talked about it in our competition meeting that we needed to be committed to each other.” Almirola said, “We needed to score as many stage points as we can. We needed to score more stage points than the 12, we needed to score more stage points than 42 and the 88. We knew all that.

“Going into the weekend that was our focus, was to be committed as an organization.”

It looked like Stewart-Haas Racing was going to sweep the first four positions before Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman got loose and collected teammate William Byron and the No. 23 of JJ Yeley.

Stage 1 winner Kurt Busch lead the field to the green on the final restart but ran out of fuel alongside Stage 2 winner Kevin Harvick. The No. 14 of Clint Bowyer went on to finish in the second position.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his seventh top 10 in 11 starts at Talladega Super Speedway, finishing third.

Credit: Courtney Horn for Skirts and Scuffs

“We definitely had to fight hard today.” Stenhouse said, “We weren’t near as good as we normally are at the speedways, so that was a real bummer, but we fought hard and made a lot of adjustments to try and make our car faster.”

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson recovered from an early crash on Lap 63 and a later penalty for too many crewmen over the pit wall, finishing seventh, earning him his third top 10 in four races.

Kyle Larson finished 11th after suffering significant damage from hitting the wall on the backstretch. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver lost one lap, but received the free pass at the conclusion of Stage 2.

Harvick continues to lead in the standings over Kyle Busch by 17 points and 24 points ahead of Kurt Busch.

Chase Elliott holds the cutoff position by one point over Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, though Elliott's win at Dover last weekend locks him into the next round. Ryan Blaney is 10th, five points behind Elliott.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 21st. Coverage starts at 2 p.m/ET on NBC.

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