Almirola rolls to a Victory following a last lap pass at Talladega

by Bryan Rivero On Sun, Oct. 14, 2018

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 14: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2018 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000 Bulbs 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon securing his spot in the Round of 8. This is his second career Cup Series win.

“I felt like I kept giving it away and I was so disappointed for all these guys behind me because they’re awesome. 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,” said Almirola in victory lane.

Kurt Busch led the field to the start of the race backed up by his three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates. It only took three laps for someone to have a problem as David Ragan’s car lost power on Lap three.

There was a point in the race where the Stewart-Haas cars and the Hendrick Motorsports’ cars controlled the first eight spots. The first caution came out on Lap 11 due to a spin by Jeffrey Earnhardt. The leaders went down to pit road but there was no major change in position.

Paul Menard ran into problems on Lap 15 expressing to his crew that something had broken in his car. Luckily no contact was made with any other cars.

It was a seven-car breakaway until the Penske cars were able to reach the lead pack and make an impact on the lead. Kyle Busch got pushed off the lead pack as it seemed that his car was handling poorly. Brad Keselowski pitted after he reported that he had a vibration putting him a lap down. The vibration was caused by a left-rear loose wheel.

Kurt Busch won Stage 1 followed by his Stewart-Haas teammates.

Ryan Blaney gained five spots during the pit stops. That put him in the lead for the beginning of Stage 2. Chase Elliott went down pit road before everyone else causing him to restart at the rear of the field.

Jimmie Johnson spun out by himself hitting the wall on Lap 63 giving him damage on the left-front part of the car. This brought out a caution. The leaders pit during the caution and Kevin Harvick took the first spot from Ryan Blaney. Blaney had a bad stop and came out eighth. Most of the drivers took fuel only.

It was a good battle following the restart for the lead by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Harvick was able to get the best help by his teammates.

Michael McDowell had an early exit to the race when he had a hub failure forcing him to the garage on Lap 81. Keselowski was able to fight back to the lead lap breaking into the top 10 near the end of Stage 2.

A playoff driver with a potential issue was Martin Truex Jr. He wasn’t running the best of races and was reporting that he was a hearing something in the rear-end of the car. More problems for playoff drivers came on Lap 103 when Kyle Larson blew a tire causing him to spin and giving him damage to the right-front fender. Most of the leaders stayed out during the caution.

Kevin Harvick continued to lead following the restart giving him the Stage 2 win. His three teammates backed him up in the running order.

Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Jamie McMurray and Bubba Wallace stayed out during the stage caution. Pit road penalties were given to Eric Jones, David Ragan and Jimmie Johnson.

Things started to heat up in the final stage with cars racing side by side and battling for positions. William Byron took the lead on Lap 123 from Keselowski.

On Lap 127 Keselowski was able to retake the lead after making a strong move on Byron. A caution came out on Lap 136 after Jamie McMurray spun in the tri-oval hitting the wall.

The leaders pit with Kurt Busch taking the lead. It was the four Stewart-Haas cars on the inside lane with the Penske cars on the outside lane. Busch was able to hold the lead following a 12 car breakaway on Lap 151.

A caution came out on Lap 160 after a tire was rolling in the infield grass. A lot of the cars further in the field elected to pit during the caution. Kurt Busch led the field on the restart with his teammates slowly getting lined up behind him. With 20 to go the Stewart-Haas cars controlled the first four spots.

It was Stewart-Haas Racing against the rest of the field. There was plenty of hard racing after the four-car breakaway but the field was not able to catch them.

On Lap 186, Alex Bowman, William Byron and JJ Yeley were involved in a crash at the back of the pack. This gave the field some life to contend for the win.

Overtime came into effect at the end and fuel became a problem for some drivers. Harvick and Blaney were forced to pit right before they went green which counted them out of contention for the win.

It was Kurt Busch with Aric Almirola side by side for the final restart with wrecks going on behind them. They stayed green going into the final turn when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a great run and pushed that energy to Almirola. When Busch ran out of fuel on the final lap, Almirola was clear and secured the victory.

Busch, who finished 14th, was disappointed but praised the competitiveness of the Stewart-Haas Racing team.

“It was a very different Talladega for me. I really enjoyed leading the race, working with my teammates,” Busch said. “I’m really happy a Stewart-Haas car won, but the four of us, I’ve never seen so much synergy. We knew we were gonna have to race when we got to Kansas. It would have been nice to have the win. We’re here to win. That’s what Monster Energy wants. Thanks to them. That’s what Team Haas wants. Thanks to Gene, Tony Stewart, everybody. But there were two human element calls there at the end. I don’t know why we ran an extra lap under yellow and why there wasn’t the yellow for a dispatch of an ambulance.”

Clint Bowyer, who finished second, said “I was happy for Aric. He had that race won last week (at Dover), and it was me that brought out the caution. I feel like he got a little redemption there.

“Was happy that we finished second.  I think it was second, second and second (in all three stages). As far as our day went, we needed to be a little bit better.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

With one race to go in the Round of 12, these are the four drivers in elimination positions going into Kansas next week: Brad Keselowski (-18), Ryan Blaney (-22), Kyle Larson (-26) and Alex Bowman (-68).

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race
Unofficial Race Results for the 50Th Annual 1000Bulbs.Com 500 – Sunday, October 14, 2018
Talladega Superspeedway – Talladega, AL – 2.66 Mile Paved
Total Race Length – 193 Laps – 513.38 Miles

Pos St Car Driver Team Make
1 4 10 Aric Almirola (P) Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford
2 2 14 Clint Bowyer (P) Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford
3 12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Ford
4 10 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
5 20 22 Joey Logano (P) Shell Pennzoil Ford
6 23 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet
7 6 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet
8 15 20 Erik Jones Craftsman Toyota
9 30 21 Paul Menard Menards/Dutch Boy Ford
10 25 95 Regan Smith Procore Chevrolet
11 34 42 Kyle Larson (P) Credit One Bank Chevrolet
12 28 62 * Brendan Gaughan(i) FALSE
13 24 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford
14 1 41 Kurt Busch (P) Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford
15 29 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet
16 13 19 Daniel Suarez Stanley Toyota
17 21 3 Austin Dillon American Ethanol e15 Chevrolet
18 37 00 Joey Gase(i) PFK Foundation Chevrolet
19 17 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. # Medallion Bank/Petty’s Garage Chevrolet
20 8 24 William Byron # Hertz Chevrolet
21 26 37 Chris Buescher Bush’s Chili Beans Chevrolet
22 38 99 * Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet
23 11 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota
24 36 15 Ross Chastain(i) Xchange of America/Solomon Plumbing Chevrolet
25 22 31 Ryan Newman Liberty National Chevrolet
26 9 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M’s Toyota
27 18 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Miller Lite Ford
28 3 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Jimmy John’s Ford
29 19 12 Ryan Blaney (P) REV Ford
30 27 32 Matt DiBenedetto Dude Wipes Ford
31 5 9 Chase Elliott (P) NAPA Nightvision Lamps Chevrolet
32 40 72 Corey LaJoie Winn Dixie Chevrolet
33 7 88 Alex Bowman (P) Nationwide Chevrolet
34 33 7 * DJ Kennington(i) Wilride Transport Ltd Chevrolet
35 31 1 Jamie McMurray Winter Park Construction/Arctic Cat Chevrolet
36 32 23 JJ Yeley(i) Steakhouse Elite Ford
37 35 96 * Jeffrey Earnhardt Xtreme Concepts/iK9 Toyota
38 39 51 Cody Ware Jacob Companies Chevrolet
39 16 38 David Ragan 1000Bulbs.com Ford
40 14 34 Michael McDowell Speedco/Rotella Ford

 

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