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Loose wheel turns Almirola’s strong New Hampshire run into heartbreak

Photo by Joe Laracuente/TRE

LOUDON, N.H. — Aric Almirola showed race-winning speed Monday in the NASCAR Cup Series Crayon 301 but will only have a 33rd-place finish to show for it.

Almirola started third, finished fourth in stage one and never dropped out of the top-5 in the first 164 laps.

On lap 165, Almirola took the lead with a two-tire pit stop and was ready to shine on the restart.

“I thought the right-rear tire felt a little bit awkward leaving pit road. Then after that, working my tires in and going through the gears before the restart, everything felt normal. I didn’t really have any concerns,” Almirola said.

Photo by Dominic Aragon/TRE

However, going into turn one, his right-rear wheel came loose and caused him to crash into the outside wall – ending his day.

Almirola has only four top-15 finishes, including a season-best sixth-place finish at Martinsville. At 90 points out of a playoff spot entering New Hampshire, a win would’ve turned his season around.

“I’m just really, really disappointed. This race team has been working so hard to bring fast race cars to the track. I’m so proud of everybody. We’re not capitalizing when we have cars capable of running up-front. Just frustrating, disappointing…all the words you can use to describe being upset is certainly where we are. I hate it. Everybody that puts so much into this program that we can’t get results,” Almirola stated.

After the wreck, Almirola will now go to Pocono Raceway almost 100 points out of a playoff spot with six regular-season races left.

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