TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on NASCAR's playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (all times local): ___
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on NASCAR's playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (all times local):
Aric Almirola finished a Stewart-Haas Racing rout at Talladega Superspeedway by taking his first win of the season with a last-lap pass for the victory.
Almirola's win earned him an automatic berth into the third round of the playoffs.
He was part of a four-car Ford tandem that dominated the entire race. Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Almirola had pulled away from the field and were in control until a caution sent the race into overtime.
Harvick had to pit for gas because he didn't have enough fuel for the extra laps. Then Busch ran out of gas while leading on the final lap and Almirola slid past for the victory.
Almirola nearly won the season-opening Daytona 500 but was wrecked while leading on the final lap.
Stewart-Haas Racing has continued to dominate the playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway with another stage sweep.
Kevin Harvick won the second stage and led teammates Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola across the finish line.
The four Ford teammates have worked together to stay at the front of the field and out of traffic during Sunday's race. All four SHR drivers are in the playoffs and trying to position themselves to advance next week into the third round.
Harvick led 46 laps in the stage.
Kyle Larson's championship chances took a huge hit when he crashed during the playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Larson appeared to get a flat tire, and it caused him to crash with seven laps remaining in the second stage of Sunday's race. Larson was already in danger of being knocked out of the playoff field in next week's elimination race at Kansas.
Brad Keselowski narrowly missed being caught in Larson's spin and used reflexes to get past Larson without any damage.
Larson had been having a long weekend at Talladega because his Chevrolet lacked speed. He had to start at the back of the field because of unapproved changes to his car after inspection.
Jimmie Johnson has crashed in the second stage of Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Johnson appeared to briefly lose control of his Chevrolet in a line of traffic during the second stage. As he tried to correct the swerve, Johnson's car went spinning onto the apron and hitting the inside wall.
Johnson already has been eliminated from the playoff field and is racing to snap his 53-race winless streak.
Hendrick Motorsports announced earlier this week that Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus will split at the end of this season, their 17th together. The duo teamed for the formation of the No. 48 team in 2002 and won seven championships, 81 of 83 races and 11 Crown Jewel events.
Their partnership is the longest active driver and crew chief pairing in current NASCAR, and the most successful of their era.
Kurt Busch has led a Stewart-Haas Racing sweep of the first stage of Sunday's playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Busch started from the pole and led all but one of the 55 laps in the first stage. The only lap he wasn't credited with leading was during a pit stop under caution.
Clint Bowyer was second in the stage, followed by Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola. That's exactly how the four Fords lined up at the start and they remained in line to the end of the stage.
Playoff driver Brad Keselowski developed a vibration during the first stage and dropped to 34th. He was the lowest finishing playoff driver in the first stage.
Stewart-Haas Racing has all four of its cars at the front of the field for the start of Sunday's critical playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kurt Busch is on the pole and followed by Ford teammates Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola. The four-driver Chevrolet contingent from Hendrick Motorsports is lined up behind SHR, and three Toyota drivers follow. Teamwork will be essential early in the 500-mile race.
Drivers will work with their teammates to stay out of traffic and trouble because an accident could cripple a championship run. Talladega marks the middle race of the second round of NASCAR's playoffs, and four drivers will be trimmed from the grid after next week's race at Kansas.
It means there's very little room for error Sunday at Talladega.