Almirola saves fuel, wins at Talladega

Rex Christensen
October 20, 2018

After Busch took the white flag with Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer chasing him, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano, and Paul Menard, a crash broke out involving Matt DiBenedetto, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott.

Busch steered to the bottom of the track and watched helplessly as teammate Aric Almirola charged past him and claimed the overtime win.

"Four or five times this year I felt like we had a shot to win but haven't been able to seal the deal".

"We were going to restart fifth and be good, but NASCAR made a decision to run three extra laps under caution to run everybody out of gas", Blaney said. "And we won. What a cool time to do it, too".

SHR locked out the top four positions for a majority of the 193-lap race, but a late race caution for contact between Alex Bowman and Erik Jones sent the race into overtime.

One of the two could easily miss out on the cut after next week's race at Kansas Speedway, especially if a lower-ranked playoff driver grabs an automatic berth with a win.

With the Round of 12 cutoff race at Kansas set for next Sunday, Larson faces elimination from the playoffs. My team did an incredible job to tell me about the different situations, and we came up a little shy on fuel.

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With nine laps to go, the Team Penske cars attempted to make the outside lane work, then dropped to the inside to try to get momentum gathered to make a charge at the SHR foursome. I'm really happy a Stewart-Haas auto won, but the four of us, I've never seen so much synergy. Harvick and Blaney had to go to pit road just as the overtime restart was getting underway, but the other three SHR cars still got off to a good launch. In particular, Kurt Busch expressed his displeasure at what he saw as inconsistent decisions to start and stop the race.

"We just had a awful race vehicle and were really slow all weekend", Larson said after the race. We tried a lot of stuff.

With some teams close on fuel, a few drivers ran around on the apron under caution with Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski running out of fuel coming to the green flag. It was all Fords in front when misfortune befell one of the Chevys, the No. 1 of McMurray, who found himself in the grass and unable to get going again. Note: won a race in the round of 16.

Busch was steamed about two NASCAR calls late in the race. Several drivers, including Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney, were forced to pit to have enough fuel to finish the overtime laps, scrambling the results as the field gathered for the restart. Had the yellow been called on that final lap, Busch probably would have won the race. Larson got his lap back as the beneficiary under caution for the end of Stage 2. The track was ready to go.

"I figured we were way out", he said.

There are conspiracy theorists who believe NASCAR officiated the end of Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway in a way that put Busch in position to lose.

Kurt Busch has led a Stewart-Haas Racing sweep of the first stage of Sunday's playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

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