LOUDON, N.H. – With darkness closing in, Aric Almirola sprung to life late Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and pulled off a shock victory, the primary one of many yr for Stewart-Haas Racing.
“There isn’t a doubt we’ve struggled,” Almirola mentioned. “However guess what? We’re going playoff racing.”
The victory was a wanted increase for Ford and performed havoc with the playoff discipline with solely 4 races left earlier than the 16-driver discipline is about. The race was delayed almost two hours by rain and NASCAR known as it early on account of darkness, leaving it eight laps shy of its scheduled conclusion.
New Hampshire was scheduled for 301 laps and 318.46 miles.
Almirola, who entered twenty seventh within the factors standings, raced to his third profession Cup victory and first since 2018. He was the primary driver out of the Stewart-Haas pack, which incorporates Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe, to take the checkered flag. Almirola had solely two high 10s this season.
“There have been so many individuals which have supported us by way of the crappiest yr ever,” Almirola mentioned. “Man, this feels so good for them.”
He broke up the Workforce Penske get together – Brad Keselowksi and Ryan Blaney had a enjoyable back-and-forth for the lead at one level – and Christopher Bell couldn’t catch him.
Bell gained the Xfinty Sequence race Saturday and was second Sunday.
Keselowski, Joey Logano and Blaney made it a 3-4-5 end for Workforce Penske.
Almirola rested his head on the automotive in virtually shocked disbelief that he clinched his playoff spot.
“I like this race monitor,” he mentioned. “I had this race gained a few years in the past, and I misplaced it. We have been by way of a lot, and I simply stood the check.”
Ford drivers took 5 of the highest six spots.
NASCAR began the race below moist circumstances, and that call became a catastrophe when Kyle Busch, the polesitter, spun on the slick monitor and wrecked solely six laps into the race. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin additionally spun and the crimson flag was waved to cease the race. Truex and Hamlin returned to race.
Busch’s race within the No.18 Toyota was over, and he bit his tongue on NASCAR’s name to start out the race.
“It by no means ought to have gone inexperienced to start with, however then it stored getting worse and worse lap over lap,” Busch mentioned. “We have been speaking about it for 2 laps that it was raining. There is no sense in saying what I need to say, it would not do you any good.”
Hamlin mentioned: “That is only a dangerous look.”
NASCAR govt vp Steve O’Donnell mentioned on NBC Sports activities races have began within the mist however the monitor “bought slick in a rush.”
Rain delay theater
New England Patriots return specialist Gunner Olszewski, the honorary tempo automotive driver, and drivers Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie tossed the soccer round with followers through the delay.
Saturday evening racing
Chase Elliott was nonetheless soaking in his Saturday evening glow when he raced head-to-head towards his NASCAR Corridor of Fame father and gained the Celebrity Racing Expertise on the outdated Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in Tennessee.
He bought the very best of 65-year-old Invoice Elliott regardless that his father is an SRX common. Tony Stewart was second and the elder Elliott was third.
“We have been actually racing for the win of the race final evening, and that was no fluke or joke or setup factor,” Chase Elliott mentioned. “We have been legitimately racing 1-2, which is unimaginable. Tony has been a hero of mine eternally. To share the rostrum with each of them, I could not have requested for something to be any extra particular than that.”
Kyle Larson gained $175,000 and the distinguished Kings Royal dust race within the World of Outlaws sequence on Saturday evening, and Harvick, who has his personal administration staff, noticed consumer Miesha Tate come out of retirement and win a UFC combat.
Summer time trip! With NBC busy with Olympics protection, NASCAR takes a uncommon two-week break and doesn’t return till Aug. 8 at Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen was bumped from the schedule final season due to the pandemic. Elliott gained the final race on the highway course in 2019.