While running just outside the top-15 of the running order in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway, the wheel fell off for Aric Almirola — literally.
On lap 138 of the 312-lap event, the right front wheel apparently broke on Almirola’s car, which sent the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang hard into the outside wall in Turn 4.
Oh my… Aric Almirola has had the wheel fly off of his No. 10 machine. This caused him to go into the wall, and broke his toe link: pic.twitter.com/S7Mxk2RiZg
— Toby Christie (@Toby_Christie) March 12, 2023
While we have seen wheels fall off of NASCAR Cup Series cars several times since the series moved to the single-lug nut wheels with the Next Gen cars, this incident appears to be the first instance of a wheel breaking.
As Almirola went back to the pit lane for repairs, the No. 10 team noticed that the center portion of the wheel was still bolted on the hub of the car. The remainder of the wheel sheered off and went flying off the car.
After slamming the wall, the toe link on the No. 10 car was damaged, which required more repairs. Almirola’s team was able to make said repairs, but due to losing a wheel during the event, the driver of the No. 10 car was held two laps by NASCAR.