Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Almirola Wins at Talladega to Advance to the Round of 8

Almirola Wins at Talladega to Advance to the Round of 8

That's really bad news if it catches you. Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Almirola had pulled away from the field and were in control until a caution sent the race into overtime.

He was part of a four-car Ford tandem that dominated the entire race.

Kyle Larson's championship chances took a huge hit when he crashed during the playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. That could mean hanging it all out in true "checkers or wreckers" fashion.

RPM's auto count is down because of a struggle to land sponsorship for Wallace, the only black driver racing fulltime at NASCAR's national level, and bringing just one vehicle to Talladega is, as Wallace said, "ballin' on a budget". It's not hard to get lined up and into a single file group to put some space between you and the pack. He ran out of gas on the final lap, fell to 27th and now can be eliminated from the playoffs.

Stewart-Haas Racing has all four of its cars at the front of the field for the start of Sunday's critical playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. Stage two went to Kevin Harvick. Six laps later, Enfinger was knocked from the lead by Gilliland's father, David, who was in second.

The final lap saw the four Stewart-Haas Racing cars settling things among themselves, and while there was some thought that "team orders" would lead to Aric Almirola being allowed to move up a spot or two for much-needed points, that didn't happen. The seven-time champ managed to miss everyone else, but he slid through the grass and ended up making contact with the inside wall.

"Strong" might not be good enough.

Just when it appeared the stage would end with no drama of any sort, Larson blew a tire and went around with less than seven to go.

The 12 round of 12 drivers finished anywhere from first through 33rd place in the 500.

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Fuel was an issue for several drivers especially after a wreck with three laps left forced overtime.

Clint Bowyer placed second while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished in third. Well, NASCAR didn't red-flag the race after Bowman's crash and instead ran five laps under the yellow flag. Instead, he led the field to green in overtime - an additional two more laps around the 2.66-mile track - as teammate Kevin Harvick forfeited the gamble and ducked to pit road for gas.

Joey Logano broke up the SHR contingent with the third-fastest time in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford at 202.478 miles per hour. 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. Before that restart, Harvick, who had led 46 laps, had to pit for fuel.

Just missing the top 12 and having a shot at the pole was Noah Gragson, who ran a 53.451-second lap time, good enough for the 13th starting position in Saturday's race.

"I just love racing at Talladega and I came to the track with the mindset that we were going to go race and we were going to go give them hell, and if we wrecked, we wrecked", Almirola said.

Bowyer finished second, congratulated his teammate and praised the SHR co-operation.

The SHR team held all four of the top positions with three laps to go in the race. "We were going to have a great day". I'm really happy a Stewart-Haas vehicle won, but the four of us, I've never seen so much synergy.

Almirola got the ticket into the Round of 8 with the victory, but Busch leaves Talladega 30 points above the cut line, a relatively comfortable margin.

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