Almirola Finishes Sixth at Martinsville
Smithfield/IHOP Ford Driver Barely Misses Top-Five Result
Date: Oct. 31, 2021
Event: Xfinity 500 (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 23rd / 6th (Running, completed 501 of 501 laps)
Point Standing: 15th with 2,184 points
Note: Race extended one lap past its scheduled 500-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):
● Aric Almirola started 23rd and finished 10th, earning one bonus point.
● Almirola fell back to 26th at the beginning of the stage.
● The Smithfield/IHOP driver raced his way to 13th by the competition caution and said his No. 10 Ford was handling well.
● He pitted during the competition caution for four tires and fuel to restart 12th.
● Almirola entered the top-10 on lap 115. At the end of the stage he said the balance was “really close.”
● At the end of the stage he pitted for four tires and fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):
● Almirola started ninth and finished sixth, earning five bonus points.
● Almirola ran inside the top-10 for the entire stage.
● The Smithfield/IHOP driver battled his way to sixth before the checkered flag waved.
● The No. 10 team pitted at the end of the stage for four fresh tires and fuel.
● The pit crew gained the No. 10 Ford two spots on pit road.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-501):
● Almirola started fourth and finished sixth.
● Almirola ran inside the top-five until lap 302.
● The No. 10 Smithfield Ford driver pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.
● Almirola drove to fifth before another caution was called.
● He remained inside the top-10 before another caution on lap 379. He said the No. 10 Smithfield/IHOP Ford’s balance was improving.
● Almirola restarted 10th and drove to eighth before a lap-436 caution.
● He pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments, and his crew’s quick work gained him two spots on pit road.
● The No. 10 Smithfield/IHOP Ford driver restarted sixth and was scored seventh after another caution on lap 453.
● On lap 494, the final caution was called with Almirola inside the top-five.
● On the final restart, the No. 10 Smithfield/IHOP driver fought hard for a top-five but came up just short in sixth place.
● Almirola earned his fourth top-10 of the season and his sixth top-10 in 26 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Alex Bowman won the Xfinity 500 to score his sixth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville. His margin over second-place Kyle Busch was .478 of a second.
● There were 15 caution periods for a total of 91 laps.
● Twenty-five of the 38 drivers in the Xfinity 500 finished on the lead lap.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield/IHOP Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Today we ran where we know we could run all year. We had a great car, and the pit crew was on it. We had the balance pretty close right off the start and we tried not to adjust too much today, and it paid off. We were best on the long run, and with all of the cautions at the end, we didn’t get to find that long-run speed where it mattered. But I’m so proud of this team for capping off the season with solid speed. Looking forward to Phoenix, where I think we have a good shot at it again.”
The NASCAR Cup Series season finale is Sunday, Nov. 7, at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.