Almirola grabs lead on overtime restart and wins at Martinsville in Xfinity Series

FILE - Aric Almirola talks with crew members outside his garage during a practice session for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Almirola won the pole to lead another strong Atlanta qualifying day for Ford. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File) (Terry Renna, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

RIDGEWAY, Va. – Aric Almirola grabbed the lead by going three-wide on the outside in a two-lap dash to the finish and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday night.

Almirola, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, outran Sam Mayer and teammate Chandler Smith before a crash made the race official. Carson Kvapil was fourth in his Xfinity debut and Justin Allgaier was fifth in a race that featured 15 lead changes, eight different leaders and 11 cautions.

Recommended Videos

“Thank you, thank you, thank you coach, for calling me to give me this opportunity to come and have some fun. It still scratches the itch of racing but I get to spend a lot of time with my family,” Almirola said after climbing from his car. “I get so much pressure to win. I mean, I think everybody expected me to just get in and go win, but the reality is it’s really hard to jump in these cars and race against the guys that do it week in and week out.”

The victory was Almirola’s fifth in the series.

Mayer had the lead for the overtime restart with Almirola to his outside, and when Sheldon Creed tried to dive underneath Mayer, Almirola went to the outside and passed both.

“On that restart, I knew it was going to be tough, but I was really thankful to be able to hold on,” Almirola said.

Mayer was not as thankful.

“Got one I feel like stolen from me there,” he said. “A tough deal but we’re going to move on to I don’t even know where we are next week. Probably a good track for me so I ain’t worried about it. We’re going to go there and try to haul the mail there.”

Recommended Videos