Sunday, October 14th, 2018


“He has fulfilled his dream of coming to Talladega and winning for his team and Stewart-Haas Racing.” – Jeff Burton on Aric Almirola

“We have seen him in this position before, he’s a great restrictor-plate racer and had a really good race today.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Almirola

LINCOLN, ALA. – October 14, 2018 – NBC Sports Group’s presentation of the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs continued this week with more than 10 hours of trackside coverage from Talladega Superspeedway, in Lincoln, Ala. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s Cup Series race on NBC, which saw Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford take the checkered flag and advance to the Round of 8.

NASCAR on NBC’s lead race announcer Rick Allen called the action alongside 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton, and NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr., from NBC Sports’ traditional broadcast booth above the start/finish line. Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte provided additional insight “On The Box”, atop NBC Sports Group’s “Peacock Pit Box” located on pit road.

Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Dave Burns reported from pit road alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.

Coverage began on NBC at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET. Krista Voda hosted pre- and post-race coverage alongside Kyle Petty and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett.

NASCAR on NBC’s race coverage today from Talladega Superspeedway marked the final Cup Series race for NBC Sports veteran Mike Wells, who has been directing NASCAR race broadcasts for 37 seasons.


Position Driver Car#
1 Aric Almirola 10
2 Clint Bowyer 14
3 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17
4 Denny Hamlin 11
5 Joey Logano 22

The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBC.


Burton on Aric Almirola: “That’s what happens when you put yourself in that position. If you keep pushing, you are eventually going to get that win. He has fulfilled his dream of coming to Talladega and winning for his team and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Earnhardt on Almirola: “We have seen him in this position before, he’s a great restrictor-plate racer and had a really good race today.”

Allen added: “After following his teammates around this track for more than 180 laps, it’s Aric Almirola who is the race winner at Talladega.”


Earnhardt on the restart for each of the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers: “I think you sit there and say hey, ‘We put ourselves in this position to win, but now it’s every man for himself. We have done what we were wanting to do all day long for the team, but now we are going to go out there to win.’”


Burton with 22 laps to go: “I don’t see any reason for any of these four Stewart-Haas guys to make a move. These four have to wait a little bit longer to see how things play out. Normally we are double-wide or three-wide here at Talladega, but the speed of these Stewart-Haas drivers is just taking that out of the equation.”

Letarte on lap 163: “There are 25 laps to go and the gloves are now off. We are going to see pushing, shoving and aggressive racing.”

Burton on lap 140: “This race has been exceptionally calm. For a Talladega race, this race has been almost quiet. As we get in to these final 40 laps, I expect the tone of this race to change quickly. The drivers are going to have to do something different than what they did during the early part of this race.”

Earnhardt on lap 135: “It’s exactly what we thought we would see, Penske vs. Stewart Hass. They both have speed, now it will just come down to if these Stewart-Haas drivers can pass Keselowski.”


Letarte on Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe’s decision to pit: “Two of Paul’s best assets are patience and race management. He understands there are still more than 100 laps to go in this race. He is giving his driver a secure car to be confident in his battle for the lead.”

Allen on Kyle Busch making a move for the lead on lap 37: “I think someone forgot to tell Kyle Busch that he’s not going to be able to pass the Stewart-Hass guys. He’s doing everything he can to try and get around them and make that outside line work. Busch is making a run and is putting up a good fight.”


Earnhardt on the four-car breakaway and first through fourth finishing order for Stewart-Hass Racing: “Wow, so they didn’t have team orders. Kevin Harvick really wanted to get that extra point and not give up third place position to fellow Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola. That tells us what we will see going forward in this race for those guys.”

Burton added: “I think that’s what you have to do. You are there to race for your individual team, I think it would be wrong for Kevin Harvick to slow down and give someone a position. That position may matter to you later. You have to get every point when you can.”

Earnhardt on Stewart-Haas Racing: “The speed of the Stewart-Haas cars is ridiculous. They are literally breaking the draft here. We haven’t seen that in years. They remind me of Bill Elliot’s speed, but in this case it’s four Bill Elliotts out there on this track.”

Burton added: “Stewart-Haas Racing brought amazing speed to Talladega this weekend.”

Letarte on manufacturers and teams working together at Talladega: “We talked about the teams working together at this track. With only seven or eight laps in the race, I thought the Ford teams might pit early early here in Stage 1. I think the yellow flag caused by Jeffrey Earnhardt threw a wrench in their plans. They would have much rather come to pit road under green, and re-enter the racetrack as a group. Now I expect every car in the field to come to pit road. Pit road is going to be busy here early on.”


Petty on Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus: “Winning races is one thing, but winning championships is another. What they have done together is remarkable. Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus will forever be remembered as one of the greatest driver and crew chief pairings in the history of NASCAR.”

Jarrett on Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski: “Be careful with your grocery money this week if you’re looking at odds at Talladega. What makes Penske drivers so good is they understand blocking and have great racecars. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski don’t do crazy things. They simply put themselves in good spots and then take advantage when the opportunity comes.”

Petty on Team Penske: “It’s hard to say ‘Talladega’ and ‘favorite’ in the same sentence, but when you say ‘Talladega’ and ‘success’, the next word is ‘Penske’. They understand the art of restrictor-plate racing better than any other team in NASCAR. They have got two of the best with Keselowski and Logano, and that’s why they are so good.”

Earnhardt on Talladega: “I tried a lot of different ways to win here, but the best way is to lead every lap. That’s not easy and is never guaranteed, but when you’re in the back of the pack at Talladega it’s incredibly hard to make your way up to the front.”