Almirola back in must-win situation at Texas

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 19: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, prepares to drive during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 19, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola is a poster child for the value of winning stages and races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series—every time points are reset in the Playoffs, the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford is back in a hole.

After advancing through the Round of 16, Almirola won at Talladega to secure a spot in the Round of 8. Having accumulated only six playoff points over the first 32 races, however, he started the Round of 8 in the cellar.

Last Sunday at Martinsville, Almirola finished a respectable 11th, but he accumulated only one stage point. With Joey Logano winning the race and advancing to the Championship 4, Almirola enters Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) 50 points below the current cut line.

“I feel like the situation we were in going into the playoffs that the only round where we could make it through on points was the first round,” Almirola said before Friday’s opening practice at Texas Motor Speedway. “Once we got through the first round, at that point, we were far enough behind on bonus points that we were going to need to win.

“You can’t count on that many people in front of you on points having worse weekends than you. There’s a reason that the guys are who they are. The top eight or top 12—it’s because they always run in the top-10. They are the same people challenging to win races. You can’t bank on just out-pointing them. We’re in a similar situation where we’re showing up here and we are like 50 points out. You aren’t going to make that up in two weeks. It is pretty plain and simple for us. We have to go win.”