Aric Almirola Wins Sparks Energy 300 At Talladega Superspeedwayby Camille Jones May 7, 2017 0 comments
TALLADEGA, Ala.– Aric Almirola held off the field in Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway to capture his third victory in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The pack diced two and three-wide in the closing laps after a restart with 11 laps remaining in the event. Almirola led just 13 laps on his way to victory in the 113-lap race. Saturday’s victory marked the first time that Almirola has visited Victory Lane at Talladega in the series.
“It means so much,” said Almirola, driver of the No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford. “First, I want to thank God. And then I want to thank Fresh from Florida and everybody at this Biagi DenBeste race team. They let me run this thing seven or eight times a year and I have so much fun, especially at the speedway races. Doug Yates brings some awesome horsepower and our Ford Mustang was super fast. I knew it right from the beginning of practice. We ran about 10 laps in practice and I said, ‘Put it on jack stands. We’re ready to go. This thing is fast.’ What an awesome day. I feel really bad about the 16 (Ryan Reed). I got in the back of the 16 and tore up a lot of cars there, but I got a good push and I got in the back of him. I was trying to help him, trying to make the Fords work together and I hooked him, so I feel sorry about that.”
Almirola was excited to celebrate his victory with his family, he added, “But an awesome job. I told the kids we were gonna get soaking wet again. They’ve talked about Daytona for a year and it’s just awesome to get this Fresh from Florida Ford Mustang into Victory Lane, so we’ll drink down a cold glass of orange juice and get ready to qualify.”
Elliott Sadler rallied forward in his No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, but was unable to make the pass on Almirola for the win. His second-place finish was his eighth top-10 finish of the 2017 season. Sadler leads Justin Allgaier in the point standings by 29 points.
Joey Logano finished in third after leading 16 laps on Saturday in his Team Penske No. 22 Discount Tire Ford. Ben Kennedy and Erik Jones completed the top-five in the Sparks Energy 300.
Rounding out the top-five was Matt Tifft, Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Suarez and Jeff Green.
The event was broken into three stages. Stage 1 was won by Aric Almirola, Stage 2 was won by Justin Allgaier and Almirola won the race, taking home the Stage 3 victory.
In a relatively calm event at Talladega Superspeedway, there were only three accidents throughout the race. Two accidents were both labeled as ‘The Big One’ where many cars were collected, while the final major accident happened as the field had already taken the white flag on the final lap.
The caution was thrown on lap 22 for an incident where Brennan Poole went three-wide through the middle at the front of the field before sliding upward on the track and making hard contact before spinning through the field and others became collected in the wreck. Nine cars were involved in the accident that resulted in a 9 minute and 28 second red flag for clean-up.
The second ‘Big One’ occurred on the final lap of Stage 2. Eight cars were collected as the field came around to take the checkered for the Stage. Multiple cars including those of Ryan Reed and Chris Cockrum took hard hits to the outside wall. The accident also involved pole-sitter Blake Koch as cars scattered through the wreck.
“Aric (Almirola) got careless there and he took the blame for it, but I think it being Saturday and him not racing here that often he was a little more careless,” Reed said. “I don’t think if it was Dale Jr. or somebody he races with every week in front of him that he would have done that, so I wish he would have taken a little more time, especially that early on, and give us a little more respect because we do race in the series every week. We’re racing for a championship and he’s not, and feel like he owes us that respect, so I’m frustrated.”
On the final lap after the field had taken the white flag, Darrell Wallace, Jr.’s car came around up high and went sailing down the track, making hard contact with the inside retaining wall on the backstretch. Wallace was okay following the hard impact.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series hits the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 27 at 1 p.m. for the Hisense 4K TV 300. Live coverage will be found on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images