Almirola Finishes 25th at Pocono
Damage to Racecar Thwarts Strong Run for Smithfield Driver
Date: July 29, 2018
Event: Gander Mountain 400 (Round 21 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Note: Race extended four laps past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish
Start/Finish: 34th/25th (Running, completed 164 of 164 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (587 points, 304 out of first)
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) in overtime
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Aric Almirola started 34th after his 19th-place qualifying time was disallowed in post-qualifying inspection. He finished Stage 1 in the 11th position.
● The Tampa native made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from the 16th position on lap 23 for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with the No. 10 Ford Fusion’s front turn.
● After scheduled green-flag pit stops cycled through, and with improved handling, Almirola worked his way up to just one spot shy of the top-10.
● He pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four tires, fuel and adjustments. With varying pit strategies Almirola came down pit road 11th and went out in the 15th spot.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Almirola started Stage 2 in 15th and completed it in 23rd.
● Shortly after the restart Almirola reported the Smithfield Ford Fusion was struggling in traffic, but he continued to work his way forward during the run.
● On lap 76 Almirola came down pit road from the 12th running position for fuel, four tires and adjustments.
● The first caution of the race came out on lap 83 while Almirola was in the 18th spot. Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier made the call for Almirola to stay out.
● He restarted 10th on lap 86 and made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 96 for fuel, four tires and adjustments. Visiting pit road just before the stage ended allowed Almirola to stay out during the break and gain track position.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-164):
● Almirola started the final stage in the sixth position and ended it 25th.
● On lap 121 Almirola made a pit stop under caution for fuel, four tires and adjustments while running in the ninth spot. When exiting his pit stall, Almirola made contact with teammate Kevin Harvick, resulting in Almirola having to come back down pit road for repairs.
● Fortunately, the next caution came out after just a brief green-flag period, and Almirola’s team was able to work on the car again.
● Almirola started from the 29th spot on lap 132 and did his best to gain track position with a damaged Smithfield Ford Fusion.
● The red flag was displayed for just over 10 minutes after an incident on lap 155. Almirola once again took the opportunity to come down pit road for service.
● Just before the race reached its scheduled distance, Almirola spun on the track, bringing out the final caution and sending the event into overtime.
● The Ford driver ultimately finished 25th in his damaged No. 10 machine.
● Kyle Busch won the Gander Outdoors 400 in overtime to score his 49th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his sixth of the season and his second at Pocono. His margin of victory over second-place Daniel Suarez was 1.788 seconds.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 29 laps.
● Twenty-eight of the 40 drivers in the Gander Outdoors 400 finished on the lead lap.
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Go Bowling at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 5 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC. Prerace coverage begins at 1 p.m. on NBCSN.