|Date: May 6, 2018
Event: AAA 400 Drive For Autism (Round 11 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1.0-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into three stages (120 laps/120 laps/160 laps)
Start/Finish:13th, 11th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (304 points, 162 out of first)
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-120):
● Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 13th position at Dover International Speedway and ended it in the 16th spot.
● Throughout the stage, Almirola was battling a tight-handling No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion.
● During the second caution of the day, the Tampa native visited pit road for fuel, four tires, and adjustments and restarted 19th on lap 25.
● The race stayed green for the remainder of the stage, and Almirola finished it in the 16th position.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 121-240):
● Before the start of Stage 2, Almirola visited pit road for four tires, fuel, and adjustments. He started the second stage in the 17th position and ended the stage in 12th.
● With the Smithfield Ford handling better, Almirola was running in the 13th spot when the caution came out on lap 153. He once again came in for service by the No. 10 pit crew and restarted 15th on lap 158.
● The race remained under the green flag until the end of the stage, and Almirola worked his way up to 12th.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 241-400):
● During the caution period for the final stage break, Almirola visited pit road for fuel, four tires, and adjustments, and restarted 13th on lap 249.
● On lap 254 the sixth caution of the day came out while the 34-year-old was in the 13th spot. He reported the Smithfield Ford’s handling was improving so he did not visit pit road, restarting 10th on lap 259.
● With the No. 10 Smithfield Ford handling better, Almirola worked his way up to the seventh position when the seventh caution came out on lap 271. Almirola pitted and restarted in 12th on lap 281.
● From lap 281 until the red flag was displayed for precipitation on lap 317, the No. 10 Ford’s handling went away, with Almirola reporting, “It doesn’t feel anything like it did before.”
● Before the field returned to green, Almirola visited pit road for fuel, four tires and multiple adjustments to help with the car’s handling and restarted 15th on lap 325.
● The remaining 75 laps were raced under the green flag, and Almirola worked his way up to the 11th position to take the checkered flag.
● This was Almirola’s best finish at Dover since the 2015 season when he finished fifth in both races.
● Almirola finished 16th in Stage 1 and 12th in Stage 2.
● Harvick’s victory in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism marked the 48th overall win for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). It was the organization’s 44th points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its third at Dover.
● Sunday’s win marks SHR’s fifth victory in the first 11 races of the 2018 season.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 48 laps.
● Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism finished on the lead lap.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“The guys did a good job today. They worked on the Smithfield Ford Fusion all day long, and it was good there at the end. We just needed more time to pass cars on the long green-flag run after the rain delay.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the KC Masterpiece 400 on Saturday, May 12 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!