Almirola scores upset NASCAR Cup win in chaotic New Hampshire race

Aric Almirola claimed a surprise NASCAR Cup victory at New Hampshire, securing an unlikely berth in the playoffs during a rain-interrupted race.

Race winner Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang

Almirola entered Sunday’s race 27th in the series standings and with no chance to make the 16-driver playoffs without a victory.

With Stewart-Haas Racing’s struggles this season, Sunday’s race on the 1.056-mile oval did not appear to present an obvious opportunity to pick one up.

But with darkness closing in due to an earlier 1 hour, 42-minute rain delay and no lights at the track, Almirola moved into the lead for the first time on Lap 246 of a planned 301.

Almirola had caught Keselowski for second-place and passed him on Lap 237, trailing leader Blaney by about a second.

On Lap 244, Almirola had closed to Blaney’s rear bumper and began trying to work around him for the lead - which he duly did so to first stake his credentials in the lead.

Following a later round of green-flag pit stops, Almirola got around Brad Keselowski to reclaim the lead then held off a charging Christopher Bell for the win as NASCAR cut the race short to 293 laps due to darkness.

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Rheem/Watts, Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang eCascadia

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Rheem/Watts, Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang eCascadia

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

The win is the first for Almirola since the 2018 season, third in his career and his first that didn’t come on a superspeedway.

Bell felt after the race that the reduced run-time had cost him a shot at a second victory of the season, although the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has already booked his place in the playoffs.

Keselowski, the winner of stage two, ended up third, while Penske team-mate Joey Logano rallied from a two-lap penalty - as his crew worked on his car during the red flag - to finish fourth as Blaney rounded out the top-five.

Blaney had secured victory in the first stage of the race, after the race was paused for rain after just seven laps of running.

Almirola’s SHR teammate Kevin Harvick finished sixth after contending for the stage-two victory with Keselowski,

Kyle Larson finished seventh ahead of Ross Chastain, while Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin - who was forced to pit twice after a lug nut got caught behind one of his wheels in the gap between the final two stages - completed the top 10.

NASCAR Cup Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race results - 293 laps

Cla Driver Manufacturer Time Gap
1 United States Aric Almirola Ford 3:07'52.477  
2 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 3:07'53.174 0.697
3 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 3:07'57.734 5.257
4 United States Joey Logano Ford 3:07'58.850 6.373
5 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 3:08'01.792 9.315
6 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 3:08'01.893 9.416
7 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 3:08'07.636 15.159
8 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 3:08'09.492 17.015
9 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 3:08'12.748 20.271
10 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 3:08'15.224 22.747
11 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 3:08'16.264 23.787
12 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 3:08'19.197 26.720
13 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 3:08'21.499 29.022
14 United States Cole Custer Ford 3:08'22.216 29.739
15 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 3:08'23.608 31.131
16 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 3:07'54.130 1 Lap
17 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 3:07'54.589 1 Lap
18 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 3:07'55.999 1 Lap
19 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 3:07'58.634 1 Lap
20 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 3:08'02.095 1 Lap
21 United States William Byron Chevrolet 3:08'02.155 1 Lap
22 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 3:08'04.807 1 Lap
23 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 3:08'08.927 1 Lap
24 United States Ryan Newman Ford 3:08'11.452 1 Lap
25 United States Michael McDowell Ford 3:08'19.028 1 Lap
26 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 3:08'21.893 1 Lap
27 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 3:07'57.049 2 Laps
28 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 3:08'11.241 2 Laps
29 United States Chris Buescher Ford 3:07'59.104 3 Laps
30 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 3:08'07.009 5 Laps
31 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 3:08'19.831 8 Laps
32 Anthony Alfredo Ford 3:08'21.979 8 Laps
33 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 3:08'24.755 10 Laps
34 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 3:08'08.591 13 Laps
35 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 2:18'22.869 106 Laps
36 Australia James Davison Chevrolet 40'45.024 253 Laps
37 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 6'54.646 285 Laps


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