Almirola takes victory as Busch runs out of fuel
Aric Almirola has won the second race of NASCAR’s Playoff Round of 12 after team-mate Kurt Busch ran out of fuel in overtime.
The Stewart-Haas Racing Fords were untouchable at times at Talladega Superspeedway and so it was that Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer were on the front row for the final restart.
Almirola took up the inside of the second row in Car #10 after #4 SHR driver Kevin Harvick had to relent and pit for fuel.
Kurt Busch continued to lead as the field started the final lap but Almirola was coming on his outside after a push from Paul Menard (#21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford).
When Car #41 coughed into Turn 4, Almirola drove on by to secure his place in the next phase of the season, having been first outside the cut arriving at Talladega.
Bowyer reclaimed second position in the #14 Ford while Ricky Stenhouse Jnr snuck up to third in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Kurt Busch took the chequered flag in 14th while Harvick was another 14 positions back again, a result which did not reflect the dominance of Stewart-Haas Racing across the 1000Bulbs.com 500 weekend.
Its Fusions swept the top four of qualifying, in which Kurt Busch took pole, and the first two stages, won by Kurt Busch and Harvick respectively.
They ran in their own leading pack at times, including at the time of the late Caution which cruelled the earlier stage winners.
That came on Lap 186 of the scheduled 188 when Alex Bowman hit the wall in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, with William Byron (#24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) and JJ Yeley (#23 BK Racing Ford) caught in the incident.
Bowman was classified 33rd and now faces a must-win scenario in the next race, in Kansas.
Denny Hamlin (#11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) finished the race in fourth, Joey Logano (#22 Team Penske Ford) was the final Playoff contender in the top 10 as he took the chequered flag in fifth, and AJ Allmendinger (#47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet) was sixth.
Jimmie Johnson finished seventh despite glancing the inside wall in the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after a half-spin on Lap 63.
Rounding out the top 10 were Erik Jones (#20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Menard, and Regan Smith (#95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet).
Kyle Larson (#42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) is 11th in the Playoff standings having finished in the race in the same position after a spin on Lap 104 which brought out a Caution.
Martin Truex Jnr battled gremlins in the #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on his way to 23rd, three positions ahead of Kyle Busch (#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), who was delayed by a multi-car crash at the start of the final lap.
Team Penske team-mates Brad Keselowski (#2 Ford) and Ryan Blaney (#12 Ford) were 27th and 29th respectively.
Chase Elliott (#9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) finished 31st after being caught up in the late pile-up but had already booked his ticket to the Round of 8 with a win one week earlier in Dover.
The Round of 12 ends with the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway this coming weekend (October 19-21 local time).
Replay: Overtime finish
Results: 1000Bulbs.com 500, Talladega Superspeedway
|3||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jnr||Ford||193||0||Running|
|23||78||Martin Truex Jnr||Toyota||193||0||Running|
Playoff standings Updated*
|Pos||Driver||Pts||Cutoff (+/-)||Playoff race wins||Playoff stage wins|
|8||Martin Truex Jnr||3083||+18||0||3|
* Car #42 (Kyle Larson) penalised 10pts for technical breach