TALLADEGA, Ala. — Aric Almirola entered Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway needing a victory to guarantee a spot in the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs. Almirola snapped a 149-race winless streak after claiming his first victory of the season. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick led for a combined 154 laps around the massive 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
Almriola, 34, passed Kurt Busch on the final lap after Busch ran out of fuel. Almirola led just one lap and it was the one that mattered.
“I felt like I kept giving it (the win) 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!”
The event featured eight yellow flags, but only one was for a multi-car accident that occurred in Turn 4 on lap 187. The incident occurred due to contact between William Byron, JJ Yeley, and Alex Bowman.
The caution set the race up for NASCAR Overtime. Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney, who were up front for a majority of the race, ended up pitting for fuel while the field was coming to the green flag. None of the aforementioned drivers finished better than 27th.
Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, and Jeffrey Earnhardt all brought out the yellow flag due to single car spins. Johnson and Larson ran most of the race a lap down, but both drivers rebounded to finish seventh and eleventh respectively. Earnhardt went on to finish 37th, 8 laps down.
On the last lap, a multi-car incident involved Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., and Matt DiBenedetto. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer announced on Twitter why NASCAR did not throw the yellow flag and end the race under caution.
Accident happened in turn 1-were actively communicating with spotters/safety trucks in turn 1. All cars were able to either roll off under own power or safety truck let tower know they were ok https://t.co/3E1yV4JIj7
— Steve O'Donnell (@odsteve) October 14, 2018
After Talladega, Brad Keselowski is 18 points below the Playoff cutline and Ryan Blaney is 22 back. Kyle Larson is 26 points behind and Alex Bowman is 68 points behind. Keselowski and Blaney would not be as far back in points had they not had to pit for fuel prior to the NASCAR Overtime start.
The series wraps up the Round of 12 next weekend at the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending Fall race winner. Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick claimed victory at the 1.5-mile track earlier this year after leading 79 of the 267 laps.
NASCAR Media Group
Matt Courson is the Managing Editor for The Racing Experts. Courson has covered NASCAR events at 19 of the 23 active racetracks. When not at the track, the 20-year-old Journalism major enjoys spending time with family and playing Ingress.