Aric Almirola wins at Talladega in overtime with last-lap pass

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Aric Almirola won Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway in overtime after passing teammate Kurt Busch coming to the checkered flag as Busch ran out of gas.

The win is the second of Almirola’s Cup career and comes 149 starts after his first in the 2014 July race at Daytona, which was shortened by rain.

Almirola beat Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Almirola secured himself a spot in third round of the playoffs.

Almirola, who only led the final lap, capped off a dominating show of force by Stewart-Haas Racing, which led 155 of 193 laps and ran first through fourth for 122 of 162 green flag laps.

“That’s so awesome!” Almirola told NBC at the start-finish line. “At Talladega! … I’ve been so close, so many times this year. … Four or five times this year I’ve felt like we had a shot to win and haven’t been able to seal the deal. To come here, a place that I love … I just love racing at Talladega. I came to the track with the mindset we’re going to go race and we’re going to give them hell. If we wreck, we wreck and if we win, we win. And we won!”

With the win all four of Stewart-Haas Racing’s teams have won this season.

Almirola’s win comes a week after he led with less than 10 laps to go at Dover when a wreck by Bowyer brought out the caution. Almirola lost the lead when he pitted.

Almirola also had chances to win at Chicagoland and New Hampshire. His bid at New Hampshire was also wiped out by a late Bowyer wreck. Almirola was a half lap from winning the Daytona 500 until he was wrecked by Austin Dillon.

“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.”

Busch, who led 108 laps, was the second SHR driver to run out of gas. Kevin Harvick, who led 46 laps, had to pit for gas as the field took the green flag in overtime.

Busch finished 14th and Harvick placed 28th.

The overtime finish was caused by a wreck in Turn 4 with three laps to go in the scheduled distance involving Alex Bowman, William Byron and JJ Yeley.

There was a multi-car incident on the last lap of overtime involving playoff drivers Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch. Matt DiBenedetto and Trevor Bayne were also involved.

MORE: Kurt Busch critical of NASCAR’s decision to not throw caution on last lap

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kurt Busch won the stage after leading all 55 laps

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

MORE: Race results
MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished third for his best result of the season … Jimmie Johnson bounced back from a wreck on Lap 63 to finish seventh … Joey Logano has finished in the top five in four of the last five Talladega races.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: David Ragan finished 39th after he lost power on the first lap. He went to the garage on Lap 10 before returning to the race later.… Kyle Larson finished 11th after he spun from a flat tire with seven laps left in Stage 2Michael McDowell finished last after having to serve multiple speeding penalties … Brad Keselowski, who led 21 laps, had to pit for fuel coming to the final green flag and finished 27th.

NOTABLE: Aric Almirola is the second driver to earn his first win of this season in the playoffs (Ryan Blaney, Charlotte Roval) … The race saw 15 lead changes, the fewest for a Talladega race since the May 1973 race (13 lead changes).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The Hendrick organization has been there before, the Gibbs cars have done that before.  It was our turn, you know what I mean?  The Penske cars have done that before. We finally got all four cars to the cream of the crop.  Oh my gosh, was it awesome.” – Clint Bowyer after SHR led 155 of 193 laps.

WHAT’S NEXT: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 21 on NBC

Today’s Cup race at Miami: Start time, lineup and more

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The NASCAR season comes to a close today with the Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and defending champion Martin Truex Jr. will decide the title.

Whoever has the best finish, wins the championship.

Here’s all the info you need for the season finale.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Actor Josh Dallas of NBC’s “Manifest” will give the command to start engines at 3:11 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 9 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:30 p.m. Moment of silence for David Pearson at 3:03 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Sr. Master Sergeant Ryan Carson will perform the anthem at 3:05 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. with NASCAR America on NBCSN and switches to NBC at 1:30 p.m. Countdown to Green beings at 2 p.m. on NBC. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 82 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Martin Truex Jr. led the final 51 laps to win the race and championship over Kyle Busch.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the complete starting grid.

Tony Stewart says JGR made ‘very smart decision’ on pit stall picks

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Tony Stewart, whose organization will compete against Joe Gibbs Racing for the Cup title Sunday, said he has no problems with JGR’s decision to have Denny Hamlin’s team not take the No. 1 pit stall so Kyle Busch, who is racing for the crown, can have it.

Hamlin’s team had the first pick of pit stalls after winning the pole but did not choose the No. 1 stall since that team is not running for a title. Busch, who starts second and whose team had the second pick, then took the No. 1 stall.

MORE: Denny Hamlin reacts to giving up the No. 1 pit stall to Kyle Busch

MORE: Cup pit stall assignments

“It’s a smart decision,” said Stewart, who will have Kevin Harvick racing for the Cup crown Sunday. “If we were in the same position, I would hope we would be smart enough to do the same thing. I’ve already seen all the drama and the people complaining either way.

“These four teams are here to win a championship and if your organization can help you do that and give you every tool available to get that done, you’re stupid to not do it.

“I’m behind what JGR did 100 percent. You have to do that. You have to put yourself in the best position to win the race and the championship. They made a very, very smart decision.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs defended his decision because Busch is running for a championship and Hamlin.

“We’re going to do everything we can to win the race there, but we also, for us, have a championship on the line and what we would love to do is win that championship,” Gibbs said. “That’s how the decision was made for us.

“I think if there is any criticism, it goes to me.”

Xfinity race results, final point standings after Miami

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Tyler Reddick claimed the Xfinity Series title with his win in Saturday’s season finale.

Reddick led 44 laps, including the final 37, on his way to his third career win.

Reddick beat Cole Custer, John Hunter Nemechek, Daniel Hemric and Austin Cindric.

Christopher Bell finished 11th, a lap down after he pit with 10 laps to go for a flat tire.

Click here for Xfinity race results

Elliott Sadler ended his final full-time season fifth in the standings.

Click here for Xfinity points report

Tyler Reddick wins Xfinity race in Miami, championship

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Tyler Reddick won Saturday’s Xfinity race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to claim the Xfinity Series championship.

The win is the first for the JR Motorsports rookie since he won the season opener at Daytona.

Reddick led 44 of 200 laps and defeated Cole Custer (second), Daniel Hemric (fourth) and Christopher Bell (11th) for the title.

Custer led a race-high 95 laps but lost the lead in the final stage during green-flag pit stops after he stayed out a few laps longer than Reddick and Bell.

Reddick took the lead when he passed Bell out of Turn 4 with 37 laps to go. He spent nearly the entire final run driving against the outside wall.

“The year wasn’t the smoothest for us, but I knew coming in here if we just made it to Homestead, this is a great track for me,” Reddick told NBCSN. “It rewards my aggression. Tonight we hit the wall a lot, but the car kept in one piece long enough to get to the end.”

The race was Reddick’s last for JRM before moving to Richard Childress Racing for 2019.

Bell, who won a rookie record seven races this season, had to pit for a flat tire with 10 laps to go.

“We just weren’t good enough,” Bell told NBCSN. “Bottom line, I wasn’t fast enough. Once the tires started wearing away, those guys just drove right back by me.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results, points report

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: With his title, Tyler Reddick also claimed the Rookie of the Year award over Christopher Bell.

OWNERS TITLE: Cole Custer’s second place finish earned Stewart-Haas Racing the owners championship.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek led 52 laps and finished third … Ryan Preece placed sixth in his last start for Joe Gibbs Racing … Ross Chastain placed 16th in his last start for JD Motorsports before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing full-time in next season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Elliott Sadler finished 14th, a lap off the lead in his final full-time start after he pit with 20 laps to go for a vibration … Caesar Bacarella placed 34th after he spun on the final lap of Stage 1.

NOTABLE: Tyler Reddick is the first driver to win the first and last race of the season in the Xfinity Series … All three of JR Motorsports’ Xfinity titles have come with the No. 9 car … Reddick joins Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017) as the third rookie to win the title … Reddick gave crew chief David Elenz his second consecutive Xfinity title after he won with Byron last year.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 1: “We just stuck to our plan. I’m not honestly second-guessing it. Our lap times over the course of the race, we were as good as we were the whole race at the end of the race. (Tyler Reddick) found a lot of speed at the end.” – Crew chief Jeff Meendering to NBC Sports on the pit strategy to not stop immediately after Tyler Reddick made his final stop.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 2: “I couldn’t do it. I don’t know, I think that’s just something I need to practice I guess. I’m at a loss for words for that.” Cole Custer to NBCSN on not being able to catch Tyler Reddick in the closing laps while running against the wall.

WHAT’S NEXT: The 2019 season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 16.