While he didn’t win, Aric Almirola far and away had the strongest car, Saturday, at Pocono Raceway.
Pit strategy worked out for others more than him. Such as teammate, Kevin Harvick, who exited the pits ahead of him on Lap 93 by taking just two new tires, to score his 52nd career victory.
Meanwhile, Almirola brought his car home third.
It’s his sixth top-10 finish of the season and third top-10 finish in 16 starts at Pocono.
“I am proud of (Mike) Bugga (crew chief) and these guys. They have been bringing some awesome race cars. I felt like we were tit for tat with the 4 when we were on older tires there and in clean air.”
He led the most laps of anyone in the race, with 61. That’s the most he’s led in a race since Texas last November and the fourth-most circuits that he’s ridden in front of the field in a race in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
Awarded the pole for the Pocono Organics 325, Almirola led the first 20 laps, but lost the lead to Joey Logano on a restart and lost out on the Stage 1 playoff point. While he wasn’t as dominant for most of the second stage, he regained the lead during a cycle of stops under the fourth caution and won the second stage.
“We opted to score a lot of points (with stages) and that probably hurt us on strategy a little bit,” he said.
His run at Pocono moved him up to 11th in points.
“Bugga and I talked about it coming here,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to score a lot of points with a double header. If you unload and you have a good car in the first race, you have an opportunity to score a lot of point in two days.