Aric Almirola could tie Dale Jr.’s top-10 record at Talladega

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A record owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be tied Sunday when the Cup Series takes to Talladega Superspeedway (3 p.m. ET on Fox).

While Brad Keselowski could tie Earnhardt’s total of six wins, that’s not a track record.

Instead, it’s Aric Almirola you should keep an eye on.

When it comes to favorites to contend for wins at superspeedways these days, specifically Talladega, the usual suspects are names like Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and last year’s winners, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott. While Keselowski and Logano have each won at Talladega three times since 2014, neither has been as consistent as Almirola.

The driver of the No. 10 Ford is the active leader in consecutive top 10s there, having earned seven since the fall 2016 race. That is one shy of the record of eight owned by Earnhardt, whose streak went from April 2001 to October 2004.

Almirola’s streak includes his win in the 2018 playoff race, which saw SHR dominate by leading 155 of 193 laps. Almirola led only the final lap after Kurt Busch ran out of gas. It was Almirola’s second Cup win. Both have come on superspeedways.

Almirola’s four top fives and eight top 10s at Talladega are his most at any track. His next best totals are at Phoenix (two top fives and six top 10s).

“The consistency we’ve brought (at Talladega) is encouraging and motivating coming off our first top-five finish of the year last Sunday,” Almirola said in a media release. “I always had to go to these races and be aggressive because, back in the day, they were our only realistic options to win races. It was the only way I could make it into the playoffs and we were able to do that in 2014 (with his win at Daytona in July). They’ve been good to me. I’ve always gone into those races with that mindset.”

A visit to Talladega is just what Almirola’s season needs after he “stopped the bleeding” Sunday in Miami with his first top-five finish of 2020.

That came after the Stewart-Haas Racing driver failed to finish better than 15th in the previous five races, which included a wreck at Bristol and battery problems at Martinsville.

“This last month has been so tough on us,” Almirola said. “Everything that could go wrong seems to have gone wrong in the last month. … Now we’re heading to Talladega, one of my favorite tracks, to hopefully continue this momentum.”