Aric Almirola relishes no-lose proposition at Kansas Speedway

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

Aric Almirola is excited to enjoy a rare moment in NASCAR racing—an elimination event with no downside for the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team.

Entering Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Almirola already is locked into the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, thanks to his breakthrough victory last Sunday at Talladega.

With his presence in the final eight assured, Almirola can go all-out to improve his standing by accumulating Playoff points for the next round. Almirola currently has six. The so-called Big 3 of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have 55, 53 and 38 respectively—potentially a huge advantage when it comes to advancing to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

As a consequence, it behooves Almirola to strive for every point he can get on Sunday. The winners of the first and second stages get one Playoff point each. The race winner scores an additional five. Almirola has the luxury of racing without the fear of elimination, with no thought of a conservative approach.

“There is really no step back for us,” Almirola said on Friday at Kansas Speedway. “If anything, I think it allows us to be less guarded. Coming to Kansas, there is no downside and only opportunity for upside. If we wreck on Lap 1, it doesn’t matter. We are still going to the Round of 8. If we win both stages and win the race, we can have seven more points when the points reset next week.

“So that’s really what we’re looking at. Everybody would love to have that bet in their stock portfolio, right? You can only go up. You can’t go down. That’s what we have. That’s the opportunity we have ahead of us. There’s no downside going into this weekend and only potential for upside.”