SHR Post-Race Report: GEICO 500 at Talladega

Date: April 25, 2021
Event: GEICO 500 (Round 10 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 188 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/68 laps)
Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 188-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Matt DiBenedetto of Wood Brothers Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing (Toyota)

SHR Race Finish:
● Kevin Harvick (Started 16th, Finished 4th / Running, completed 191 of 191 laps)
● Cole Custer(Started 27th, Finished 10th / Running, completed 191 of 191 laps)
● Chase Briscoe (Started 25th, Finished 11th / Running, completed 191 of 191 laps)
● Aric Almirola (Started 14th, Finished 15th / Running, completed 191 of 191 laps)

SHR Points:
● Kevin Harvick (7th with 308 points, 138 out of first)
● Cole Custer(23rd with 178 points, 268 out of first)
● Aric Almirola (26th with 159 points, 287 out of first)
● Chase Briscoe (28th with 155 points, 291 out of first)

Harvick Notes:
● By taking the green flag, Harvick became the all-time leader across NASCAR’s top-three series in total starts with 1,198 starts – 728 Cup Series starts, 346 Xfinity Series starts and 124 Camping World Truck Series starts.
● Harvick earned his third top-five and seventh top-10 of the season, and his eighth top-five and 17th top-10 in 41 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.
● Harvick finished ninth in Stage 1 to earn two bonus points.
● Harvick led three times for 12 laps to increase his laps led total at Talladega to 276.
● Harvick has now led 11,168 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,594 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.

Custer Notes:
● Custer earned his first top-10 of the season and his first top-10 in three career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.
● This was Custer’s best finish so far this season. His previous best result was an 11th-place drive in the season-opening Daytona 500.
● Custer’s 10th-place result bettered his previous best finish at Talladega – 22nd, earned last June.

Briscoe Notes:
● Briscoe was the highest finishing NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
● This was Briscoe’s best finish so far this season. His previous best result was an 18th-place drive Feb. 28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
● Briscoe led one lap – his first lap led in the Cup Series.

Almirola Notes:
● Since joining SHR in 2018, Almirola has only finished outside the top-15 once at Talladega – a lone 37th-place finish in the series’ prior visit to the track last October.
● Almirola led once for 16 laps to increase his laps led total at Talladega to 71.

Race Notes:
● This was Ford’s 708th all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory and its fourth win of 2021.
● This was Ford’s 31st all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory at Talladega and its 10th in the last 12 races at the 2.66-mile oval. Ford won its first race at Talladega on May 4, 1975 with NASCAR Hall of Famer Buddy Baker.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 34 laps.
● Only 26 of the 40 drivers in the GEICO 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin remains the championship leader after Talladega with an 87-point advantage over second-place Martin Truex Jr.

Talladega Quotes

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Dog Brew Ford Mustang:
“We definitely didn’t like to see the ‘22’ flying around in the air right in front of us, but our Busch Dog Brew Ford Mustang was good all day. We raced all day. I kind of slid the left-front (tire) there and got a speeding penalty at one point. We were able to stay on the lead lap, but everybody did a great job. The car is still rolling at the end of two speedway races in a row. I think that’s a first for us. We just need a little bit of momentum. The cars have run well on the speedways. Hopefully, next week we have everything together at Kansas and we can have a good day.”

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang
“We had a fast Smithfield Ford today before a puncture in the nose at the end slowed us down some. Early in the race I had a terrible vibration that felt like it was coming from the driveshaft. I think it was damage on the splitter, so when we’d go to a high speed the vibration picked up. It was good to be there at the end, but we didn’t get the hole we needed to drive back up to the front at the end. On to Kansas to try to pick the momentum back up.”

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang:
“That was the solid race we needed. I think if a thing or two would’ve gone our way on that last restart, we would’ve ended up with an even better finish. But our Ford guys did a good job getting us a fast Mustang for this race. We started out a little too free, then we were on the tighter side, and then we got the car about as comfortable as I’ve ever driven on a superspeedway. We’ll take this one and hopefully build some momentum for this next stretch of races. Now, we just have to keep clicking off those top-10s.”

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang:
“Hate that we couldn’t get a top-10 out of it, but honestly, 11th is a great finish. You never know how it’s going to go at Talladega, and I was hoping this could be a race for us to turn things around and get a good finish. Momentum is always a good thing. This is the confidence builder we need heading into the next few races.”

Next Up:
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Buschy McBusch Race 400 on Sunday, May 2 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race begins at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.