Most of the playoff eligible Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are fearing this weekend’s trip to the Talladega Superspeedway. Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 (2 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) could make or break most of their chances of advancing to the Round of 8. In the last round, it was the ROVAL sparking fear in the NASCAR garage, this round it’s Talladega.
Chase Elliott doesn’t have to worry because his win last weekend in Dover automatically advanced him to the third round. Another driver not worrying is Aric Almirola. While he’s 10 points behind the final cutoff spot, he can easily make up enough ground this weekend to put himself in a great position heading towards Kansas next week.
Actually, I can see Almirola taking his No. 10 Ford to victory lane in Sunday’s race in fact. His 149 race winless streak could potentially come to an end like it should have last week in Dover.
Almirola, was nine laps away from earning his first Cup Series victory since July 6, 2014 at Daytona. Unfortunately, his teammate Clint Bowyer crashed hard in Turn 4 bringing out a late race yellow and in turn costing Almirola his second career Cup win. But, what better track than Talladega to make up for that.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is at his best on plate tracks. Over his last six plate races, Almirola has four top seven finishes. He was a 1/2 lap away from winning the season opening Daytona 500. He finished seventh in the spring race at Talladega. In fact, he has four straight top eight finishes on the high banked 2.66-mile Alabama superspeedway overall including a fifth place run in this same playoff race a year ago.
His last two Xfinity Series wins came on restrictor plate tracks. One in 2016 at Daytona and the other in the spring of 2017 in Talladega.
Moral of the story here, Almirola who’s shown to have speed in his car as of late, has been among the top plate racers over the last few years. Don’t count him out on Sunday.