Almirola leads Ford 1-2-3 at Talladega

Aric Almirola charges to victory at Talladega
Aric Almirola charges to victory at Talladega
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Aric Almirola had more fuel than his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates on Sunday, giving him the opportunity to pass the sputtering Ford of Kurt Busch off turn four on the final lap en route to the victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

It’s the first win of the season for Almirola, his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win victory. His first came back on July 6, 2014 at Daytona International Speedway.

The victory also locks him into the Round of 8 of the MENCS Playoffs.

“Today was sweet," Almirola said. “To go to Victory Lane in such a clutch moment, in the Playoffs, down 10 points coming into this weekend, knowing this was an opportunity race for us, winning here today was really special. Like I said, I can count on my hand five or six races that I feel like we maybe should have won this year, and it didn't work out, didn't happen. Today the good Lord was shining down on us and we were able to go to Victory Lane. It was a special day."

In a race that saw the Stewart-Haas Fords dominate the day, a late caution sent the race into Overtime while several drivers – including the leader – were worried about fuel.

Coming to the restart, SHR teammate Kevin Harvick suddenly pulled onto pit road with his engine sputtering from third place, as did fellow Playoff contenders Brad Keselowski Ryan Blaney who had both been in the top 10.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Busch again surged to the lead, and suddenly came under fire from Almirola.

With cars wrecking behind them shortly after taking the white flag, Busch worked to block Almirola as NASCAR let the race stay under green.

Coming into turn four, Almirola swung his No. 10 Ford to the outside as Busch’s car suddenly slowed with a dry fuel tank. From there, Almirola held off teammate Clint Bowyer to the checkered flag.

Almirola’s victory comes one week after a bitter disappointment after coming close to winning at Dover, only to see the change go away with a late crash.

“I felt like I kept giving it away and I was so disappointed for all these guys behind me because they’re awesome," Almirola said. “They’re the best. I’m with the best team in the garage and I felt like I kept letting them down not winning a race. Today, the Good Lord was shining on us and we went to Victory Lane. We did it, finally."

Almirola celebrates
Almirola celebrates

SHR drivers led 155 laps on the day, with Busch topping the charts by leading 108 laps. Several times, the four SHR teammates pulled away from the field, sometimes leading up to 12 cars single file. Over the closing laps, the four had pulled away as the rest of the pack, from fifth place back, battled side-by-side while Busch led the way.

With two laps to go, the yellow flag flew for a crash triggered when Alex Bowman got loose, making contact with Erik Jones before hitting the wall. J.J. Yeley and William Byron were gathered up in the process.

That set up the Overtime finish, which saw Busch’s No. 41 Ford come up a turn and a half short from the finish.

Busch would cross the line in 14th, leaving the race’s polesitter wondering what could have been – and questioning why there was not a caution thrown for the last lap caution.

Almirola sweeps past a sputtering Kurt Busch
Almirola sweeps past a sputtering Kurt Busch

“It was a very different Talladega for me," Busch said. “I really enjoyed leading the race, working with my teammates. I’m really happy a Stewart-Haas car won, but the four of us, I’ve never seen so much synergy. We knew we were gonna have to race when we got to Kansas. It would have been nice to have the win. We’re here to win. That’s what Monster Energy wants. Thanks to them. That’s what Team Haas wants. Thanks to Gene, Tony Stewart, everybody. But there were two human element calls there at the end. I don’t know why we ran an extra lap under yellow and why there wasn’t the yellow for a dispatch of an ambulance."

While Busch’s Ford faltered, teammate Clint Bowyer edged out fellow Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. for second at the checkered flag.

“I was happy for Aric," Bowyer said. "He had that race won last week (at Dover), and it was me that brought out the caution. I feel like he got a little redemption there. Was happy that we finished second. I think it was second, second and second. As far as our day went, we needed to be a little bit better."

The final lap crash broke out when Matt DiBenedetto spun after contact from the car of Trevor Bayne. Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr. and Ryan Newman were all gathered up in the accident as well.

Unofficially, Bowyer finished in second, with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in third, Denny Hamlin in fourth and Joey Logano in fifth.

A.J. Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Paul Menard and Regan Smith rounded out the top ten.

It was a rough outing for several of the Playoff contenders going into next weekend's cutoff race at Kansas Speedway. Kyle Larson finished in 11th, with Truex, Jr. 23rd, Kyle Busch in 26th, and Keselowski – who led portions of the race's final segment – in 27th.

Harvick came home in 28th, with Ryan Blaney in 29th. Elliott was 31st and Bowman finished 33rd.


1 10 Aric Almirola (P) Ford 193 202.410mph
2 14 Clint Bowyer (P) Ford 193 0.105 202.414
3 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 193 0.311 203.019
4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 193 0.433 203.420
5 22 Joey Logano (P) Ford 193 0.479 202.731
6 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy 193 0.525 203.944
7 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 193 0.528 203.325
8 20 Erik Jones Toyota 193 0.539 202.615
9 21 Paul Menard Ford 193 0.605 204.760
10 95 Regan Smith Chevy 193 0.631 203.377
11 42 Kyle Larson (P) Chevy 193 0.664 203.766
12 62 * Brendan Gaughan(i) Chevy 193 0.679 203.269
13 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 193 0.781 203.866
14 41 Kurt Busch (P) Ford 193 2.664 202.478
15 13 Ty Dillon Chevy 193 3.273 203.200
16 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 193 3.348 202.804
17 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 193 3.361 203.693
18 00 Joey Gase(i) Chevy 193 3.557 204.384
19 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. # Chevy 193 3.875 203.204
20 24 William Byron # Chevy 193 5.364 203.580
21 37 Chris Buescher Chevy 193 6.393 203.680
22 99 * Landon Cassill(i) Chevy 193 13.089 201.380
23 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Toyota 193 16.469 202.714
24 15 Ross Chastain(i) Chevy 193 17.108 202.132
25 31 Ryan Newman Chevy 193 20.048 203.758
26 18 Kyle Busch (P) Toyota 193 22.609 203.515
27 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Ford 193 28.400 202.722
28 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Ford 193 34.727 202.350
29 12 Ryan Blaney (P) Ford 193 67.968 202.658
30 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 192 0.770 203.045
31 9 Chase Elliott (P) Chevy 192 0.942 202.179
32 72 Corey LaJoie Chevy 191 -2 201.659
33 88 Alex Bowman (P) Chevy 191 -2 202.290
34 7 * DJ Kennington(i) Chevy 190 -2 198.442
35 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy 186 -6 204.869
36 23 JJ Yeley(i) Ford 185 -8 203.970
37 96 * Jeffrey Earnhardt Toyota 185 -8 202.465
38 51 Cody Ware Chevy 185 -7 198.924
39 38 David Ragan Ford 173 -19 202.418
40 34 Michael McDowell Ford 155 -37 202.448


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