Aric Almirola won the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. Almirola held off Christopher Bell by .697 of a second in the rain-delayed shortened (8-laps) race due to it getting dark. This was Almirola’s first win of the season and the third of his NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) career.
“I love coming up to the New England area and racing. I love this racetrack. I had this race won a couple of years ago and I gave it away. I lost it, and I am so glad to win a race here with this race team. God is so good. We’ve been through so much and I’ve just stood the test and kept the faith. The team, everybody, they’ve just been working so hard. Smithfield, Ford, Go Bowling, Pit Boss Grills, everybody, Honeystinger, Shady Rays Sunglasses. There have been so many people that have just continued to support us through the crappiest year ever, and, man, this feels so good for them.” Almirola said.
Almirola was probably not high up on your fantasy league or online betting sites for New Hampshire, but with great past performances in the past, he was probably a driver that was easily overlooked to win.
The New Hampshire (1.058-mile oval) win also snapped a 98-race winless streak for the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang NCS Stewart-Haas Racing driver and is the first win for Almirola that is not on a superspeedway. Almirola’s previous best finish at New Hampshire was third in July of 2018. He also won the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona earlier this year.
“I’m so proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, Roush Yates Engine Shop. We have been fighting, scratching, clawing, and, man, this feels so good to have something pay off for all the hard work, so just really happy. Man, this means so much.” Almirola added.
A rain delay on lap 6, Kyle Busch spun the No. 18 Toyota into the Turn 1 wall, ending his day. Martin Truex Jr. also spun the No. 19 Camry on the wet track causing damage to the front end and splitter. Denny Hamlin also spun but had minimal damage.
“We started the race under a mist. It never should have gone green, to begin with, but then it kept getting worse and worse lap overlap. The lap before I went into (turn) one and it shoved the nose really bad and I was able to keep it under control. It wasn’t bad enough. The next time I went down there, hell, I lifted at the flag stand, maybe a little past the flag stand, don’t get too dramatic, and just backed it in. We’ve been talking about it for two laps that it was raining. There’s no sense in saying what I want to say, it doesn’t do you any good.” Busch said.
Due to the red flag delay, darkness ended the race 8 laps early as a precaution with only 15 of 37 drivers on the lead lap.
Christopher Bell finished second, Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished third and fourth, and Ryan Blaney finished fifth.
Perhaps extra eight laps might have made the difference for Bell.
“I didn’t know how many laps they cut it short, but definitely whenever I saw the board and saw that we were eight laps short, it stings man. I felt like I probably had a little better pace than him and I was able to get to him. I know lapped cars were giving him a bad time, but I was able to get to him. It was going to be a heck of a race, but really proud of everyone on this Rheel Pristine Auction Camry.” Bell said.
With this victory at New Hampshire, Aric Almirola will now be in the Cup playoffs for the fifth time.
Almirola started the race 22nd and after stage one he was in 14th place. He restarted 13th for stage two and finished fifth. On the final stage, he restarted fourth, regained the lead on lap 274, and went on to win the 92nd overall win for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The NASCAR Cup Series has a two-week break due to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo but returns August 8th for the Go Bowling at The Glen road-course race at Watkins Glen, N.Y. at 3 p.m. EDT.