FORT WORTH, Texas — After the field was jumbled by pit strategy following the opening Stage, it was Aric Almirola who became the man to beat late in Stage 2 of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson led the most laps (40) in the Stage, but Almirola was too strong in his No. 10 Ford Mustang.
Almirola would lead 11 laps, including the last couple after Kyle Busch came to pit road from the lead for a splash of fuel.
Erik Jones ended the Stage in second, Johnson was third and Kyle Larson was the highest-finishing Playoff contender in fourth.
Fellow Playoff contenders Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick finished Stage 2 in fifth and sixth, while Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Busch and William Byron rounded out the top-10.
Ryan Blaney (12th), Martin Truex Jr. (19th), Denny Hamlin (30th) and Chase Elliott (37th) were the Playoff contenders who finished outside the top-10 in Stage 2.
Hamlin is now three laps off the pace after ripping his splitter in the infield grass at the end of Stage 1.
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