tallad

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

2 Comments

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