Aric Almirola Finishes 14th at Martinsville
Race Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):
● Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 10th position at the paperclip-shaped track and ended it in the 19th spot.
● The Mobil 1 driver was the fastest car on track by lap 30.
● Almirola’s car made contact with the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick on pit road following the lap-52 stop, causing slight damage to the right front of the No. 10.
● Johnny Klausmeier, the Mobil 1 crew chief, called Almirola back down pit road following the contact to repair the right front.
● Almirola was able to race back into the top-20 by lap 100.
● The Tampa, Florida, native requested “more drive off” as the first stage came to a close, though he was running top-10 lap times.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):
● The 33-year-old Almirola began Stage 2 from the 19th spot and ended the stage 13th.
● Before the start of Stage 2, the Mobil 1 crew serviced Almirola’s Ford with four tires, fuel and adjustments.
● Almirola raced his Mobil 1 Ford Fusion back into the top-15 by lap 224.
● On lap 255 Almirola raced around the reigning NASCAR champion, Martin Truex Jr., to take over the 13th spot.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-500):
● Almirola entered the final stage in the 14th position and completed it in 14th.
● The Mobil 1 team battled a loose-handling condition through most of the stage.
● Almirola persevered and raced back into the top-10 by lap 329 to put all four Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) cars into the top-10 once again.
● The Mobil 1 driver had raced into ninth prior to the lap-384 caution, where he opted for a full-service stop with chassis adjustments.
● Unfortunately, Almirola was penalized for speeding in Zones 5 and 6 on pit road during the lap-384 caution and had to restart in 14th.
● Almirola once again worked his way into the top-15 and ultimately finished 14th – his sixth top-15 finish in six races.
● NASCAR postponed Sunday’s Cup Series race at Martinsville to Monday due to snow.
● The last time snow postponed a NASCAR Cup Series race was in 1993 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
● Monday marked Almirola’s 250th Cup Series start.
● Almirola has yet to finish outside of the top-15 this year.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 33 laps.
● Fourteen of the 38 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Bowyer won the Martinsville 500 to score his ninth career Cup Series victory, his first with SHR and his first at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 1.146 seconds.
● Bowyer’s victory in the Martinsville 500 marked the 47th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 43rd points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its fourth at Martinsville.
● This was SHR’s seventh Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I worked all day to get my track position back after the first mistake, and then I made another. But our Mobil 1 Ford Fusion was fast, and while we needed to roll the corner a bit better all day, we still had a solid run. All of our finishes at Stewart-Haas have been solid this year, really showing that Mobil 1 oil technology performs on the track and Mobil 1 Annual Protection can do the same for our fans at home.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.