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Aric Almirola wins at New Hampshire; clinches Playoff berth

Almirola at Pocono Raceway

Aric Almirola took Sundays Cup Race at New Hampshire in nail-biting fashion. Prior to the race, there were reports of rain in the area. Despite driver and spotter concerns, NASCAR proceeded with the start of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, which lasted only 6 laps before a Kyle Busch wreck that took forced a caution and a halt due to heavy rain.

The resumption of the race saw early lead changes with the likes of Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney fight for position. Joey Logano, 2x Cup Series winner New Hampshire, went down 2 laps prior to the restart from a crew member working on the car during the red flag. Logano would work his up to 4th by the races’ end.

With impending darkness on the horizon, NASCAR notified the drivers of a possible “10 laps to go” call if the visibility lacked or possible chance of rain was too great. Having a possibly shortened race, drivers shifted their mindsets to race like it was the last lap until the race was called or ended.

Almirola saw himself move into contention after finishing stage 2, in 5th place. Once the green flag waved for the final stage, Almirola slowly moved up into the lead with over 70 laps to go. Brad Keselowski, who sat in 2nd, pitted later with 55 to go in order to force drivers to get fresh tires. Almirola came in a lap later and even lost the position to Keselowski with 50 to go. However, Almirola’s long-run speed prevailed and after an eventual pit stop from Matt Dibenedetto, Almirola assumed the lead with 27 to go. Despite a hard-charging Christopher Bell, the #10 team scored their first win of the season for them and Stewart Haas Racing while clinching a berth into the playoffs.

Prior to this race, Almirola had just one top-five, two top tens, and sat 27th in the playoff standings. Now, with 4 races to go before the playoffs, sits comfortably in 13th.

Race results, stats, and standings can be found here.

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