Aric Almirola wins at Talladega after Kurt Busch runs out of gas

Yahoo Sports

Aric Almirola passed teammate Kurt Busch on the exit of turn 4 on the final lap at Talladega to get his first win of the season and move on to the third round of NASCAR’s playoffs.

Stewart-Haas Racing dominated Sunday’s race but fuel mileage was iffy for them and many others at the front of the field. The SHR cars last pitted on lap 138 of the scheduled 188-lap race that went overtime because of a crash with three laps to go.

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Almirola, Busch, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were running in the top four at the time. Harvick had to peel off to pit road before the race went green with two laps go, leaving his three teammates to battle it out for the win.

Bowyer finished second while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished third.

A big crash happened entering turn 1 on the final lap but NASCAR kept the race green until the finish. It was a contrast from Saturday’s Truck Series race, when a crash on the backstretch on the final lap triggered an early caution flag from the officials in race control.

NASCAR officials typically hold the caution flag on the last lap if all of the cars can make it back to the finish line. Both Chase Elliott and Matt DiBenedetto were involved in the wreck and didn’t finish the race. They were also forced to go to the infield care center, per NBC, which is protocol for a driver who has to exit his vehicle early because of a crash.

Stewart-Haas led over 150 laps

The four Stewart-Haas cars combined to lead 153 of the race’s 193 laps. Yet the two drivers that led the most laps where nowhere near the front of the field at the finish.

Busch led 108 laps and finished 14th. Harvick was 28th after his late pit stop. He led 46 laps. Bowyer didn’t lead any laps and Almirola’s only lap led was the last lap.

The four cars qualified 1-2-3-4 and stuck to a master plan throughout most of the race. They ran nose-to-tail on the low line whenever possible and would even drive away from the rest of the field at various points in the race. That’s a remarkable achievement at a place like Talladega where restrictor plates prevent cars from accelerating away from each other.

Unfortunately for SHR, the plan didn’t work out as well as the team hoped. But a 1-2 finish is nothing to sneeze at. And the guy that finished 28th was so good during the regular season that he didn’t need to have a good finish on Sunday.

Points standings

1. Chase Elliott (won at Dover)
2. Aric Almirola (won at Talladega)
3. Kevin Harvick, 3,128
4. Kyle Busch, 3,111
5. Joey Logano, 3,104
6. Kurt Busch, 3,095
7. Clint Bowyer, 3,086
8. Martin Truex Jr., 3,083
9. Brad Keselowski, 3,065
10. Ryan Blaney, 3,061
11. Kyle Larson, 3,057
12. Alex Bowman, 3,015

Full results

1. Aric Almirola
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Joey Logano
6. AJ Allmendinger
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Erik Jones
9. Paul Menard
10. Regan Smith
11. Kyle Larson
12. Brendan Gaughan
13. Trevor Bayne
14. Kurt Busch
15. Ty Dillon
16. Daniel Suarez
17. Austin Dillon
18. Joey Gase
19. Darrell Wallace Jr.
20. William Byron
21. Chris Buescher
22. Landon Cassill
23. Martin Truex Jr.
24. Ross Chastain
25. Ryan Newman
26. Kyle Busch
27. Brad Keselowski
28. Kevin Harvick
29. Ryan Blaney
30. Matt DiBenedetto
31. Chase Elliott
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Alex Bowman
34. DJ Kennington
35. Jamie McMurray
36. JJ Yeley
37. Jeffrey Earnhardt
38. Cody Ware
39. David Ragan
40. Michael McDowell

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/1361/" data-ylk="slk:Aric Almirola">Aric Almirola</a> has his second career victory. (Getty)
Aric Almirola has his second career victory. (Getty)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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