Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/11/14

LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 26: Aric Almirola, driver of the #51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota stands during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 26, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola started Sunday’s race from the 18th position with the plan to be aggressive and run up front for sponsor Gwaltney. Settling into the low line in the early laps of the race with teammate Ambrose, he found that the draft was not revealing one clear path to the front.

An early four-car accident on Lap 17 forced Almirola to take evasive action onto the track apron and, while he avoided contact, he reported to crew chief Todd Parrott that he hit the apron banking hard.  Parrott called his driver to pit road for a two-tire stop and to give the No. 43 Gwaltney Ford a quick once-over to make sure there was no damage to the splitter.

Assured his Ford Fusion was good to go, Almirola returned to the track for a Lap 21 restart in 14th.  Like his teammate, the driver tried jumping into the high, middle and low lines to look for an advantage.  He seemed to find his best success on the bottom, pushing his way to the second position by Lap 54.

After a routine green-flag stop on Lap 59, a long green-flag run gave Almirola a good chance to assess how his car handled in different lines and in varying ranges of proximity with other cars. The assessment led to a wedge adjustment on the team’s next stop on Lap 99 as the track went under its second caution.

As the field returned to green on Lap 103 with the Gwaltney Ford lined up 11th, Almirola once again settled in to the bottom line and pushed toward the head of the pack.  The next 35 laps showed Almirola staking his claim within the top 10, surging once again as high as second.

A debris caution on Lap 138 gave the team a chance to make final chassis adjustments and pack the gas tank with as much fuel as they could for the final run.  With the way Almirola had been running all day, a top 10, top-five and even a win seemed within reach.

As the 43 team restarted in ninth, the Talladega “chess match” continued for the next 40 laps, with drivers trying to make the right lateral moves to get in the fastest lane.  And then, a late caution with five scheduled laps to go set up the field for a final dash.

Almirola was in sixth and knew his car was capable of getting to the front and a possible trip to Victory Lane.  As the field restarted for a green-white-checkered flag finish, the No. 43 pushed up to fourth on the first lap before disaster hit on the final lap.  “The Big One” struck as the field headed for the checkers, with leader Tony Stewart setting off a 24-car wreck that pancaked Almirola up into the wall.

When the smoke cleared and Matt Kenseth had claimed victory, Almirola tried to refire his car but had too much damage to make it back to the garage.  He was transported to the infield care center where he was evaluated and released.

NASCAR scored Almirola with a 19th-place result, moving him up one spot in the driver standings to 21st.

Comments from Almirola after Talladega: “It’s pretty disappointing when you have a really strong car all day and have a shot at a top-five, or even a win, and the whole effort gets wiped out on the last lap.  Our Gwaltney Ford was working really well in the draft and we showed we could push to the front, and push others to the front.  I’m disappointed for my guys with all the work they put into giving me a fast car.  But we’re headed back to Charlotte next — it’s home and it’s where we earned the pole in the spring.  So we’re looking forward to bouncing back.”


Jeff Fisher wants Sam Bradford back with Rams in 2015

Nick Young on Magic's tank talk: Chill before I knock you out

Vernon Davis tired of being invisible in 49ers offense

Marcus Mariota is headed for the history books

Reports: Red Sox agree to terms with Justin Masterson

Barry Alvarez to coach Wisconsin in Outback Bowl


Tigers, Red Sox swap Yoenis Cespedes, Rick Porcello

Cashman: ARod needs to drop weight before spring training

Dodgers agree to trade Matt Kemp to Padres

Five potential big free agents of 2015

Rajon Rondo doesn't plan to wear 'I Can't Breathe' shirt

Mike Pettine 'excited' to see what Johnny Manziel can do

Los Angeles Dodgers rework the script and reload the clip

Astros book Taylor Swift concert at stadium during playoffs

WATCH: Olbermann calls out Doug Gottlieb for Kobe tweet

JR Smith follows model's Instagram during game

Ohio St. unveils College Football Playoff uniform changes

10 NCAA teams that already made statements

10 compelling Heisman Trophy statistics

Five reasons Patriots won't lose to Dolphins again

10 injuries that have significantly altered NFL season

Pitcher traded twice in same day sends great tweet

WATCH: Rondo elbows Stephenson in throat

WATCH: Beal beats Magic with layup off inbounds play

Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Dodgers rework the script, reload the clip

Astros book Swift show during playoffs

10 amazing Heisman Trophy statistics

Dodgers trade Matt Kemp to Padres

10 injuries that changed NFL season

Twice-traded pitcher sends great tweet

Pettine 'excited' to see Manziel

5 NFL players who could be traded in offseason

Marshawn explains 'Beast Mode' name

Jay Gruden takes another shot at RG3

Browns ticket prices up due to Manziel

Never underestimate the focus of a champion

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.