Stewart-Haas Racing looked unstoppable in the NASCAR playoffs race at Talladega. The #41 Kurt Busch started on the pole and was followed by his three teammates the #4 of Kevin Harvick, #14 Clint Bowyer and #10 Aric Almirola. They were the fastest cars in town. They completely dominated the 40-car field and made it look easy as well.
Kurt Busch took the stage one win and earned the all-important playoff point. Stage two went to Kevin Harvick. No one really had an answer for the SHR teams, but late cautions and fuel worries derailed many chances for many drivers to win the race. Coming to green in overtime Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney hit pit lane due to running out of fuel, and as the rest of the field was racing an incident between multiple cars, in turn, two after the field had taken the white flag, brought about questions of why a yellow wasn’t thrown to end the race.
As the leaders raced back to the front stretch #41 of Kurt Busch ran out of fuel, which allowed teammate Aric Almirola in the Smithfield #10 to take the checkered flag for the first time in 2018. The win marked Aric’s second in his Monster Energy career. The outcome of the race changed very quickly on those final two laps.
Top 10 results:
1st #10 Aric Almirola
2nd #14 Clint Bowyer
3rd #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr
4th #11 Denny Hamlin
5th #22 Joey Logano
6th #47 AJ Allmendinger
7th #48 Jimmie Johnson
8th #20 Erik Jones
9th #21 Paul Menard
10th #95 Regan Smith
Other Notables: #42 Kyle Larson P11, #41 Kurt Busch P14, #24 William Byron P20, #78 Martin Truex Jr P23, #18 Kyle Busch P26, #2 Brad Keselowski P27, #4 Kevin Harvick P28, #12 Ryan Blaney P29, #9 Chase Elliott P31, #88 Alex Bowman P33.
Big implications in the playoffs as NASCAR heads to Kansas for the final race in the round of 12. #10 Aric Almirola was around minus three or two points all race below the cutoff, but he no longer has to worry in this round as he has locked himself in to the next round much like Chase Elliott did by winning at Dover. Here is a look at the playoff grid as they head to Kansas.
1st #10 Aric Almirola 3087 points locked into the round of 8 with a win at Talladega.
2nd #9 Chase Elliott 3066 points locked into the round of 8 with a win at Dover.
3rd #4 Kevin Harvick 3128 points +63 above the cutoff, has three stage wins.
4th #18 Kyle Busch 3111 points +46 above the cutoff. Note: won a race in the round of 16.
5th #22 Joey Logano 3104 points +39 above the cutoff.
6th #41 Kurt Busch 3095 points +30 above the cutoff, has one stage win.
7th #14 Clint Bowyer 3086 points +21 above the cutoff.
8th #78 Martin Truex Jr 3083 points +18 above the cutoff, has three stage wins.
9th #2 Brad Keselowski 3065 points -18 below the cutoff, has one stage win. Note: won a race in the round of 16.
10th #12 Ryan Blaney 3061 points -22 below the cutoff, has one stage win. Note: won a race in the round of 16.
11th #42 Kyle Larson 3057 points -26 below the cutoff, has one stage win.
12th #88 Alex Bowman 3015 points -68 below the cutoff.
As the teams head to Kansas the battle is on for the final spots in the round of 8. I think Martin Truex Jr and Brad Keselowski find ways to get the final two spots in the round of 8. The race in Kansas will be a wild one, check it out next Sunday.