This past Sunday’s event at Richmond Raceway offered a breakthrough of sorts for two drivers who made the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs in 2020 but have struggled mightily in 2021. Those drivers — Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola and Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto — had both failed to record a top-10 finish this season before coming home sixth and ninth, respectively, at Richmond. Needless to say, both now feel considerably better about the direction of their season heading to Talladega.
“It just shows the strength of our team, and it’s rewarding to finally get that top 10 and be climbing up there in the points, digging out of that hole and doing what I’ve known all along that we’re more than capable of as a team,” DiBenedetto said. Now, DiBenedetto and Almirola head to a track in Talladega where they’ve both had past success. DiBenedetto nearly scored his first career Cup Series victory here last fall and Almirola earned his second career Cup Series triumph here in 2018.
“My goal at Talladega is always to earn as many playoff points as possible and win the race,” Almirola said. “We always have a fast setup there and we’re always able to put on a show up front. Talladega is always one we try to capitalize on and you just hope to be there at the end to have a shot at a win. That’s all you can do. When we’re there at the end we typically find ourselves contending for the win or a top five."