Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):
● Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 12th position at Texas Motor Speedway and ended it in the 11th spot.
● After an early caution in the stage, Almirola and the four-car Stewart Haas Racing contingent ran in the top-10 until lap 30.
● On lap 44, Almirola made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from the 11th position for fuel, four tires and wedge. After pit stops cycled through, he continued to run in the top-11.
● Almirola reported he was loose in traffic on lap 75 and ultimately finished the first stage in 11th.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):
● Before the start of Stage 2, Almirola visited pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments, and started the second stage in the 11th position. The 34-year-old completed the stage in the 10th spot.
● In Stage 2, the Tampa, Florida, native reported he needed more front turn. Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier continued to make adjustments to help the No. 10 Ford Fusion’s handling.
● The third caution of the race came out on lap 127, and Almirola visited pit road for more adjustments before completing the stage in the 10th position and earning one bonus point.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 171-334):
● During the caution period for the final stage break, Almirola radioed to the Smithfield crew that his car was better but that he still needed more front turn.
● After a fast pit stop to help with the No. 10 Ford’s handling, Almirola started to the final stage in the eighth position before his day ended prematurely due to a seven-car accident on lap 178.
● Almirola had finished among the top-14 in all previous races this season.
● Until the accident on lap 178, Almirola maintained a top-15 running position all day.
● Almirola finished 10th in Stage 2 to earn a single bonus point.
● Kyle Busch won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 to score his 44th career Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his third at Texas. His margin of victory over second-place Harvick was .300 of a second.
●There were eight caution periods for a total of 48 laps.
● Only 10 of the 37 drivers in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 finished on the lead lap.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We come to these repaves and we are going really fast and all fighting for the bottom lane, because the second lane isn’t as good and the third lane is really not as good. We got down to turn three, and I was trying to be smart and be patient because we still have a long way to go in the race. I backed out of it to let the No. 18 have the second lane, and the No. 11 just got loose under me. I hate it. Our Smithfield Ford Fusion was really good today. We were going to run top-10 for sure, and we were making the car better and better each pit stop, and I thought we could have continued to work on it and maybe make it a top-five car. If you make it a top-five car, anything can happen at the end of these races, and that’s what I’m most disappointed about. We definitely had a car capable of a really good result today and unfortunately have nothing to show for it.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Food City 500 on April 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX TV, PRN and SiriusXM Radio.
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