Race Weekend Central

Aric Almirola Survives Late-Race Chaos to Win Xfinity Race at Martinsville

Aric Almirola won the DUDE Wipes 250 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday (April 6) after an overtime finish, his first win of the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. It also marked the fifth series victory of his career and second with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Almirola’s last win with the team dates to 2007 at Milwaukee Mile, where he was subbed out mid-race for Denny Hamlin. Hamlin ended up crossing the line first, but Almirola was credited with his first win in the Xfinity Series (formerly Busch Series). Almirola led a race-high 142 laps almost 17 full years later at Martinsville en route to his second win for Gibbs.

“This is so awesome to win for Joe Gibbs Racing,” Almirola said. “I’ve had an asterisk next to a win for Coach [Joe Gibbs] for 17 years, and this is so awesome to finally put a real win banner up inside the shop at Joe Gibbs Racing. Thank you, thank you, thank you Coach for calling me and giving me this opportunity to come and have some fun and still scratch the itch of racing, but still get to spend time with my family.”

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Almirola also simultaneously won the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash, bagging an extra $100,000.

Sam Mayer had his best finish of the season after crossing the line second. Mayer worked his way up the field late, having been on a differing tire strategy in the early stages of the race. Mayer was leading at the overtime restart, but was challenged from behind by Sheldon Creed, and the ensuing contact allowed Almirola to slip by on the outside coming out of turn 2. Mayer finished 1.231 seconds behind Almirola.

“Obviously I’m mad I’m not kissing a grandfather clock right now,” said Mayer. “But golly I finished the freaking race, so I guess we’re all good there. This season has been a bag of trash, sad, ugly, disappointing, all of the ugly words that you could say about something. To have a night like this, to be a really good points day for one, were digging ourselves out of a hole.”

Two-time winner this season and JGR teammate Chandler Smith finished third, while Carson Kvapil completed his Xfinity debut by finishing fourth. Kvapil’s JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier rounded out the top five.

“My goal going in was honestly to finish the race,” Kvapil said. “The next goal would be to finish as best as I can, and I feel like we pretty much came right up on that. I felt like we kept losing spots on pit road. I passed a few cars. Then all of the sudden coming out of the pits, I’m right back behind them. Then, I’m just like, ‘Man I got to pass these guys again.’ So, that was a little bit of a struggle I’d say. That was about the only thing we really struggled with all race long.”

Creed, Sammy Smith, Cole Custer, Jesse Love and Josh Williams completed the top 10.

Brandon Jones won the pole but had to go to the rear for a brake problem after yesterday’s (April 5) qualifying. Custer jumped to the lead to start the race over Creed, leading the opening 27 laps. That span included the first caution of the race, which flew for Sammy Smith making contact with Dexter Bean after going three-wide into turn three and a subsequent spin from the No. 92.

Almirola took the lead from Custer on lap 28, maintaining the lead over Creed for the stage one win. The remainder of the stage featured the second caution of the day, involving Hailie Deegan, Brennan Poole and Kyle Weatherman.

Custer, Mayer and AJ Allmendinger completed the stage one top five.

Stage two started with a massive pileup on the restart after Jones missed a shift. Almirola was the car behind Jones, and many drivers behind Almirola were involved in the crash including Austin Hill, Corey Heim, Parker Retzlaff, Riley Herbst, Allmendinger, Taylor Gray, Anthony Alfredo, Logan Bearden, Leland Honeyman, Jeremy Clements, Deegan, Bean and Weatherman, among others.

Smith took the lead on the second restart of stage two on lap 81, remaining out front until nine laps to go in the stage, when his teammate Allgaier got past him.

Allgaier held on to win stage two over Almirola, and Smith, Kvapil and Custer rounded out the top five in the stage.

Almirola won the race off pit road and pulled away once more from both of his JGR teammates, but a debris caution on lap 171 reset the field again.

Parker Kligerman stayed out for the restart on lap 178, but Almirola made quick work of the No. 48 and continued to keep his teammates behind him.

Creed started to reel Almirola in, but another caution waved with 55 laps to go for Garrett Smithley going around.

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Almirola and Chandler Smith battled side-by-side for multiple laps on the lap 205 restart, but Almirola was able to prevail and Creed managed to move back into second.

Ryan Sieg caused another late-race caution on lap 234, and Almirola took the high side for the restart. He lost the lead initially to Smith, but managed to gain it back for the lead with eight to go. However, Mayer took the lead on the next lap right before another caution for a multi-car crash involving Jeb Burton, Clements, Matt DiBenedetto, Myatt Snider, Kyle Sieg and others.

For the overtime restart, Mayer was driven into from behind by Creed, which made it three-wide for the lead. Almirola drove past on the high side despite the contact, making it to the white flag before Herbst spun and hit the wall. That brought out the final caution of the day and awarded the win Almirola.

Xfinity Race Results from Martinsville

The Xfinity Series returns to the Lone Star State at Texas Motor Speedway for the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 on Saturday, April 13 at 1:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage will be provided by FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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Christopher

Chaos Creed strikes again.

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