Almirola Gets Talladega XFINITY Win

Aric Almirola

"This means so much. I want to thank everyone at the Biagi DenBeste team – they let me run this thing seven or eight times a year and I have so much fun." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Aric Almirola scored the win in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Almirola had to fight off a hard-charging Elliott Sadler and Joey Logano on the final lap to score his third career series win. His last victory came in July of 2016 at Daytona.

A torrid battle for the top spot on the last lap saw Bubba Wallace and Ryan Seig both spin behind the leaders. NASCAR did not display the caution flag and the race back to the line was on.

At the checkered flag it was Almirola ahead to score the win.

“This means so much. I want to thank everyone at the Biagi DenBeste team – they let me run this thing seven or eight times a year and I have so much fun,” Almirola said. “Our car 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 the jack stands, we’re ready to go. This thing is fast.’”

Almirola became the season’s seventh different winner. He led three times for 13 laps including the final four.

Logano dropped back as far as seventh in the final laps but was able to get back to the front and challenge for the win but came up two positions short.

"Man we were so close, aggravating, but so much fun,” Logano said. “I love racing here at Talladega in these XFINITY cars. The draft is so crazy and different. The runs come so quick and it's hard to block them. You have to physically block them with your car and it's really tight.

“We came through (Turns) 3 and 4, I thought I had a run and Aric was late to block and I was like, 'This is could be where it all ends (laughs)'. (He) got there just in time and I just got into his rear and had to cross him over. Dang it! I had a good push there at the end with the 2 car and we just couldn't stay attached like we needed to.

Sadler, Logano, Ben Kennedy and Erik Jones rounded out the top five.

“The JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars haven’t been great on superspeedways here the last year and a half and today I really felt like we had a car that could race and make a lot of good moves, big moves, and get clear, get to the front and lead laps. So that’s a big step for us and it was a good day overall,” Jones said.

Matt Tifft, Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Suarez and Jeff Green completed the first 10 finishers.

Kasey Kahne led 18 laps but was penalized for pitting outside his pit box during a caution for debris. He wound up finishing 15th.

Almirola and Allgaier won the opening two stages.

There were two multi-car accidents in Saturday’s race including a nine car melee that saw Daniel Hemric, Spencer Gallagher and Brandon Jones involved among others. Nobody was injured but a red flag was displayed to clean up the debris.

There was also another crash later in the race with Ryan Reed, who was hit from behind by Almirola, and Brendan Gaughan getting the most damage.

“Aric 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.”

The NASCAR XFINITY Series is off until returning to action on May 27th at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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