Aric Almirola was able to secure his third career victory in the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend. It was his 99th career start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and his first start at Talladega since last season where he finished 10th. Almirola had a strong showing all afternoon after winning Stage 1, and with phenomenal pit stops was able to stay up front when it counted.
“I knew when they dropped the green flag that we were going to be able to go up to the front and we did. We drove right up to the front, led some laps, won the first stage, got back up to the front in the second stage and I got really, really depressed and dissapointed when we had that mix-up getting onto pit road and we lost the draft. I thought, ‘Man, there goes our shot to win this race,’ and when that caution came out I knew that was our opportunity to go win this race.”
In the end, a strategy call to take tires at the end of the race helped win the race for Almirola, but he used his car’s maneuverability to thread his way through the field.
“Jon made the call to come put four tires on it and fill it up with fuel and I knew that was gonna give me the opportunity to put my car in some really tight situations and I was gonna be able to make a lot more aggressive moves with sticker tires and we were able to do that and my car drove really great at the end,” Almirola said.
Jon Hanson crew chiefed his 67th career race, and scored his second career victory. Both wins have come with Almirola at the helm. Hanson, as noted above, made all of the right calls today that ultimately landed Almirola in victory lane.
“First, Doug and everybody at Roush Yates with their horsepower that’s usually the key here. We never took this car to the wind tunnel. This is the same car we won with in July last year and it doesn’t qualify well.” stated Hanson in the post-race media availability. “Obviously, we always qualify about 20th or 23rd, but it always races well. The guys at the shop build good race cars for us and it’s fun to be a part of it.”