Almirola was asked on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about what happened with DiBenedetto.
“He was frustrated or upset, I guess, that I passed him on the last lap,” Almirola said. “I don’t know. I guess he thought that I shouldn’t race for 25th. I mean I race for every spot all race long. I don’t care if it’s for 25th or the lead.
“I guess he thought I should have let him finish 25th, and I wasn’t going to do that. I passed him in the Tunnel Turn on the last lap. He said I took his line away from him. He was upset about it. I don’t know. I hate it for him that he didn’t finish 25th. We were racing. It’s called racing.
“I was baffled. I was blown away after the race when he come and run into the side of me and spun me out. I couldn’t wrap my head around what he was so upset about.
“I understand. I guess when you’re running back there and you’re fighting to stay on the lead lap week in and week out, racing like that, 25th is a big deal. But I was racing. I caught him off Turn 1 and drove underneath of him and passed him in the Tunnel Turn and we came back to the checkered. I finished 25th and he finished behind me (in 27th) and apparently was pretty upset about it.”
Almirola was back there after making contact with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick on pit road with about 40 laps to go. Harvick had Alex Bowman to his outside and Almirola to his inside as they went down pit road when William Byron exited his stall. Almirola moved up and bumped into the left rear of Harvick’s car with his right front.
“Cost (Harvick) a chance at winning the race, cost us a chance of running probably sixth to eighth, I thought,” Almirola told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Just bad timing, bad circumstances and it created a lot of damage to our right front fender.
“We got back in traffic, and then they wrecked on one of those restarts and we got caught up in that as well. A lot of bad circumstances kind of compounded and just not the weekend, not the result, we were looking for with a good car, not a great car, but a good car.
“Any time you have a good car like that you want to capitalize on it and run top 10. We didn’t do that. There’s going to be weekends like that. It’s just about going there and trying to forget about it and bounce back and go to Watkins Glen this weekend and have a good run.”