Almirola 22nd at Charlotte
Smithfield Ford Driver’s Day Challenged by Handling Conditions, Low Grip
Date: May 30, 2021
Event: Coca-Cola 600 (Round 15 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into four stages (100 laps/100 laps/100 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 31st / 22nd (Running, completed 397 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 28th (195 points, 438 out of first)
Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 3 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Aric Almirola started 31st and finished 22nd.
● The Smithfield Ford driver pitted on lap 52 for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments.
● Almirola went one lap down when he returned to the field and raced to 23rd by lap 77.
● The No. 10 Ford was two spots short of rejoining the lead lap when the stage ended.
● He pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments when the stage concluded.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Almirola started 26th and finished 26th.
● Almirola pitted from 21st on lap 150 while still one lap down.
● The caution was called on lap 173. The No. 10 team opted not to pit.
● Almirola pitted at the end of the stage for four fresh tires, fuel and more adjustments.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 201-300):
● Almirola started 26th and finished 24th.
● Almirola pitted under green on lap 247 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.
● The caution was called with five laps to go in the stage.
● Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and more air pressure adjustments when the stage concluded.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 301-400):
● Almirola started 23rd and finished 22nd.
● Almirola raced in and around 23rd but said grip was falling off more as the race went on.
● Due to green-flag pit stops cycling through, the Smithfield driver race to 22nd before the race concluded.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We battled all day to improve the handling and speed of our Smithfield Ford Mustang. We got caught a lap down early and just couldn’t recover. When we had clean air we were one of the fastest cars, but I just couldn’t find any grip in traffic. We raced our tails off to try to find something, and our pit crew had a great day. Moving on to Sonoma.”
● Kyle Larson won the Coca-Cola 600 to score his eighth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Charlotte. His margin over second-place Chase Elliott was 10.051 seconds.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 26 laps.
● Only 14 of the 38 drivers in the Coca-Cola 600 finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin remains the championship leader after Charlotte with a 76-point advantage over second-place Larson.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Save Mart 350k on Sunday, June 6, at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race begins at 4 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.