2018 Cup Season in Review: Aric Almirola

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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Kurt Busch

CREW CHIEF: Johnny Klausmeier

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

POINTS: Fifth (Previous best 16th in 2014)

WINS: One (Talladega II; second career victory and first since 2014)

LAPS LED:  181 (Career-best; previous best 78 in 2012)

TOP 5s: Four (Career-best; previous best three in 2015 and 2017)

TOP 10s: 17 (Career best; previous best seven in 2014)

POLES: None

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Began season with top 15s in 14 of the first 16 races … Came within two corners of winning the Daytona 500 before getting spun out of the lead by Austin Dillon … Was never worse than 14th in the points standings during the regular season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Entered the playoffs with only one bonus point based on a stage win at Chicagoland; added five bonus points with his Talladega win, but still trailed the eventual Championship 4 by nine or more points … Sustained crash damage in back-to-back races at the Charlotte Roval and Dover in the fall … Led 70 laps at Chicagoland before losing a lap late in the race to finish 25th … Led 42 laps at New Hampshire but failed to win and finished third.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019: Second year with Stewart-Haas will allow Almirola to develop more chemistry with the organization. All four of his top fives came in the second half of the season and he should be able to carry that momentum forward.