Aric Almirola in Danger of Missing Playoffs Despite New Hampshire Win

Published 07/25/2021, 10:00 AM EDT
Apr 18, 2021; Richmond, Virginia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola (10) races NASCAR Cup Series driver Ross Chastain (42) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) at Richmond International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports


At the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Aric Almirola triumphed ahead of Christopher Bell. Normally, a regular-season win guarantees a Playoff berth.

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However, it is interesting to note that despite his win, his Playoff spot is not fully confirmed yet. After that win, Almirola crowed that he was ‘going playoff racing’, however, there is some doubt about that.

Admittedly, the modern system says that a race-winning driver needs to be in the Top-30 in the point standings. Almirola ticks that box because of his 23rd place berth.

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Furthermore, he is 260 points ahead of 31st place Josh Bilicki, with 240 points up for grabs. Lastly, the spots are reserved for the regular-season champion, and the next 15 drivers rank in order of wins.

If there are multiple drivers with one win, the points decide the remainder of the Top-16. Interestingly, regular-season championship leader Denny Hamlin has yet to win a race. Meanwhile, at least 13 drivers have reached Victory Lane in the 2021 Cup Series season.

What does this mean for Aric Almirola?

Admittedly, Almirola’s chances of climbing up the order are slim, because Michael McDowell is 71 points away. With four races left, he would need at least two wins and poor finishes from McDowell to be safe.

Furthermore, Almirola will also need to be wary of what happens to championship leader Denny Hamlin.

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Mar 14, 2021; Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe (14) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola (10) drive during the NASCAR Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If Hamlin remains in the lead, Almirola cannot afford to see three more different winners. At least those drivers who sit above him in the standings.

On the other hand, if Hamlin loses his championship lead, Almirola cannot afford to see four different winners above himself in the standings.

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For the last three years, Aric Almirola has made it into the Playoffs every year. He even has a best result of 5th in the championship standings. Now he will be eager to make it four years in a row in the Playoffs.

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Dhruv George

12017 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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