Lobster Shakes The Monkey Off: Aric Almirola Wins Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 At NHMS

Aric Almirola poses with the race winner’s lobster after scoring victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

LOUDON, N.H. – The frustrations within the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR Cup Series stable have been mounting through the 2021 season. 

Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Stewart-Haas driver Aric Almirola helped to alleviate some of that frustration. 

For Almirola though, a victory Sunday also meant helping things at home too. 

Almirola got Stewart-Haas its first victory of the season in winning the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

“Nobody should have thought we were going to win,” Almirola said. “Based on our performance this year at the majority of the race tracks we haven’t been a contender to win.” 

Almirola came into Sunday’s Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with two career series victories. His first came in July 2014 at Daytona International Speedway for Richard Petty Motorsports and his second came in October at Talladega Superspeedway for Stewart-Haas. 

“To win at a non-restrictor plate race, my wife hates the fact that I’ve only won at restrictor plate races,” Almirola said. “She’s told me for years, she’s like ‘Honey I know that you always have a good shot when we go to Daytona and Talladega but I so badly want you to win somewhere else.’ And so yeah it feels good to be able capitalize on fast race cars. 

“This year has been struggle. Since we won the [qualifying Duel event at Daytona], we went into the Daytona 500 with really high hopes and very fast race car and wrecked out early. And from that point forward it has just been a battle. To battle and fight the way that we’ve fought – and sometimes literally fight – and just continue to grind it out and show up to the race track every week with a new hope that we can go get the job done this week. And today we were able to do that.” 

Christopher Bell was second and Brad Keselowski was third. 

The race was shortened from 301 laps to 293 laps due to darkness. The race was stopped on lap eight for an extended rain delay. 

“It honestly wasn’t that bad,” Almirola said of the vision at the end of the event. “There was enough light to keep racing. … It was definitely dusk, but it wasn’t dark.” 

Bell was disappointed in NASCAR’s decision to cut the race short.

“I didn’t know how many laps they cut it short, but definitely whenever I saw the board and saw that we were eight laps short, it stings, man, because I feel like I probably had a little bit better pace than him, and I was able to get to him,” said Bell, who won the Xfinity Series event Saturday at NHMS. “I know lapped cars were giving him a bad time, but I was able to get to him, and it was going to be a heck of a race.”

The victory locked Almirola into a playoff position. And Almirola emphasized it brings true confidence to him and his team. 

“When you run good it’s easier and you have a lot of confidence,” Almirola said. “People just don’t understand. People are always like ‘You’ve got to keep your head up and you’ve got to have confidence’ but that’s based on results. You can’t just fake that stuff.” 

The biggest storyline of the event came in the opening laps when rain began falling. It led to race leader Kyle Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, second place running Martin Truex Jr., crashing on lap six. The incident also collected fellow Joe Gibbs Racing competitor Denny Hamlin. The wreck ended Busch’s day. Truex went on to finish 12th and Hamlin was 10th

Comments

  1. 27th In points.. now a playoff driver?? 2 count them 2 -10’s This whole season. Everything wrong with NASCAR now they bounce another team actually running decent each week because he wins a shortened race.. it’s not his fault and good for him for playing by the rules and winning.. With him and McDowell taking two of the playoff spots.. : they need to look at this.. at least the SRX finale was good this weekend. Hope they return to Stafford next summer!

  2. When are they going to learn when sunset happens at this unlit track???

  3. I was hoping Ryan Preece would have that 10 Car next year, He was having a horrible Season in TOP NOTCH CAR behind Ryan in points , then He goes out and Wins ,, not what I wanted… this may make Ryan’s move into the 10 much much harder… It was almost a done deal that Aric would be out of a ride for 2022 , then he goes out and wins…..Unreal

  4. Suitcase Jake, relax, it’s just a Dark Horse win, shouldn’t change the big picture at all. He’ll go back to being a noncontender in a really good car. I think Preece is a good fit with Stewart-Haas.

  5. I also think it depends on Smithfeild. Almirola brought Smithfeild with him from the 43. The other domino is that bomb of Harrison Burton going to the 21 next year. Now DiBenidetto is looking for a ride. Added competition.
    The fact that teams have to start with all new gen 5 cars next year, the charter wars, and a youth movement, Preece will have his work cut out for him to secure something in 2022 at cup level. Fingers crossed.

  6. Anyone think this race was more entertaining than most cup races from NH. Did Kyle Busch receive any penalties for bump drafting and causing some damage to the pace car?

    Aric had 75-1 odds to win at NH which was tied for 15th lowest odds going into the race. For perspective Kyle Larson was the favorite at 9-2. Preece went off at 500-1 (26th highest odds) McDowell the other “surprise” winner this year went off at 750-1, The rules Nascar has employed for their championship rewards these catch lightening in a bottle events and really downplays consistency. For example Aric is currently 23rd in points after the win at NH. McDowell is 19th in points. They are both in the championship run. The good news is some of these lesser teams can race for a championship if they catch some luck at one event. The bad news, if Kevin Harvick, currently 10th in points, doesnt get a win and a couple more surprises happen they may not make the “playoffs” When they are have been consistently better than Aric and Mcdowell.

  7. CSG;
    I thought (at least on tv anyway) that the place look way racier than it’s been in the past. Other than the debacle at the start, there was actual racing, lead swapping. Not used to that at nh. Usually it’s a strung out single file affair.
    Thought I would see something on Kyle bumping pace car. Surprised I have not.
    It was interesting to me, that the pb1 applied in years past, and not this year, made for a better race IMO. (Or it’s just the track getting old) Sure, a lot of factors, track temps, previous runs, no sun ect all factor in. But I thought for a cup race at nh, it was one of the better ones. And if the race went the full distance, I firmly think that we would be having a conversation about Almirola and the one that got away. Bell was coming, and I think he would have caught him.
    As for Harvick, yeah, he needs to look over his shoulder, particularly if there is a “new” winner before the playoffs.
    I’m interested to see how Reddick and Dillon race each other from this point forward. I would say that things must be a little “tense” these days at Childress racing for sure.

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