Event: South Point 400 (Round 27 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 267 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/80 laps/107 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/13th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 12th with 2,033 points (6 points ahead of top-12 cutoff)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Aric Almirola started fourth and finished third, earning eight bonus points.
● Despite saying his No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang was loose, Almirola took the lead from teammate Daniel Suárez on lap 31.
● Almirola led laps 31-33 before fellow Ford driver Joey Logano took the lead, dropping Almirola to second.
● Brought Smithfield Ford to pit road for scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 42. Only change was to tire pressures.
● By lap 60, pit stops had cycled through and Almirola was back in second place.
● Made a great save on lap 66 as car jumped loose in turn one, allowing teammate Kevin Harvick to take second.
● After finishing third at the end of the stage, Almirola said, “Really, really loose – don’t have much to lean on.”
● Pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage, with the only adjustment being right-side tire pressures.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Almirola started third and finished 11th.
● On lap 95, Almirola said his Smithfield Ford didn’t have very much sidebite and that it wasn’t turning. He dropped to fifth.
● While running seventh, made scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 122 for four tires, fuel and adjustments to track bar and tire pressures.
● “I’ve got my hands full,” said Almirola on lap 134 while running 10th.
● Dropped to 11th on lap 149 and keyed mic: “I don’t have any grip!”
● Pitted for four tires and fuel at conclusion of stage, with the only adjustment being to right-side tire pressures.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Almirola started 11th and finished 13th.
● Shortly after the restart, Almirola began falling down the leaderboard. On lap 170, he was 18th, with the front splitter slamming onto the track.
● Almirola took advantage of a caution on lap 180. He brought the Smithfield Ford to pit road, whereupon crew chief Johnny Klausmeier ordered a host of changes that included adding packers to both front shocks, a wedge adjustment and raising the track bar.
● Stayed out during another caution period that began on lap 189, which allowed Almirola to climb back to 10th for the lap-196 restart.
● Advanced to seventh by lap 200 as front end of racecar began handling better, but car was now tight on exit.
● By lap 227, Almirola radioed that his Smithfield Ford was getting really tight, and it showed as he dropped to 10th.
● Made scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 231 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.
● Was 16th on lap 249 but climbed to 13th in the final 18 laps.
● Almirola earned his 16th top-15 of the season and his fifth top-15 in 13 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Las Vegas.
● This is Almirola’s fifth straight top-15 at Las Vegas. He finished seventh in the series’ last visit to the track in March.
● This is Almirola’s second consecutive top-15. He finished 14th in the series’ last race at Indianapolis.
● Almirola led once for three laps – his first at Las Vegas.
● Martin Truex Jr., won the South Point 400 to score his 24th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth of the season and his second at Las Vegas. His margin of victory over second-place Harvick was 4.173 seconds.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 22 laps.
● Only 17 of the 39 drivers in the South Point 400 finished on the lead lap.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I am leaving content. We dug deep and I feel like we maximized our day. We had a few miscues and weren’t 100 percent perfect on our execution. The car wasn’t 100 percent perfect, and we still managed to go up there and lead the race and score stage points. We finished third in Stage 1 and scored a fair amount of stage points. After Stage 1, we kind of lost the handle on the car and lost some track position and it became even more of a handful. We dug deep and fought hard and got out of here with a decent finish. We are plus-six to the good on 12th, so I feel good about that. It is better than leaving minus-six or minus-16 or minus-60. I am happy with that. We will keep our heads up and keep digging. Our Smithfield Ford Mustang showed strength tonight and we just lost a little bit of the handle on it.”
Playoff Standings (with two races to go before Round of 12):
1. Martin Truex Jr. (2,082 points) 1 win
2. Kevin Harvick (2,079 points) +52 points
3. Joey Logano (2,075 points) +48 points
4. Kyle Busch (2,063 points) +36 points
5. Brad Keselowski (2,058 points) +31 points
6. Chase Elliott (2,057 points) +30 points
7. Denny Hamlin (2,056 points) +29 points
8. Kyle Larson (2,044 points) +17 points
9. William Byron (2,040 points) +13 points
10. Ryan Blaney (2,039 points) +12 points
11. Alex Bowman (2,037 points) +10 points
12. Aric Almirola (2,033 points) +6 points
13. Ryan Newman (2,027 points) -6 points
14. Kurt Busch (2,019 points) -14 points
15. Clint Bowyer (2,012 points) -21 points
16. Erik Jones (2,007 points) -26 points
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. It is the second race of the 10-race playoffs and it starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.