Sunday, December 4, 2022

Aric Almirola Holds Off Christopher Bell to Score Darkness-Shortened Cup Race at New Hampshire, Locks Into Playoffs

Screengrab from NBCSN’s Race Broadcast

Aric Almirola entered Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort and Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 27th in the championship point standings and in desperate need of a victory if he had any hopes of moving into the Playoffs.

Almirola’s prayers were answered after a long rain delay earlier in the day forced NASCAR to shorten the race distance by eight laps due to darkness. Almirola had a car that was incredible on long green-flag runs and he had just what he needed to hold off a hard-charging Christopher Bell in the closing laps of the race.

“God is so good man,” Almirola exclaimed with exuberance. “We’ve been through so much and I’ve just stood the test and kept the faith. The team and everybody they’ve just been working so hard.”

For Almirola, it’s his third-career NASCAR Cup Series win, and his first since 2018 at Talladega Superspeedway. But the 37-year old says it was just nice to get the win for his sponsorship partners who have supported him through the worst season of his career.

“There’s been just so many people who have continued to support us through the crappiest of years and this feels so good for them,” Almirola said.

This win will lock Almirola into the Playoffs, and it will now cause indigestion for many of those who were lurking around the cutline.

Behind Almirola and bell was Brad Keselowski in third, who led 53 laps on the day.

Joey Logano rallied from two laps down to finish fourth. Logano was penalized the two laps when a crew member made a repair to his car under the rain red flag as Logano’s throttle was hung by a piece of tire rubber.

Ryan Blaney finished the day in fifth, after leading 64 laps.

Kevin Harvick led a race-high 66 laps, but just didn’t have enough to contend for the race win in the end as he came home sixth.

Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-10 finishers.

With Almirola winning to move into the Playoffs, it knocks Austin Dillon off the cutline. Dillon finished 17th on Sunday, and attempted to hold up Almirola in the closing laps. But Almirola was too strong.

Now, with four races remaining until the Playoffs, Dillon will have to find a way to out-point his RCR teammate Tyler Reddick or score a win himself to lock into the Playoffs.

The NASCAR Cup Series will go into a two-week break, but will return at Watkins Glen International on August 8th.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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