At the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Aric Almirola booked his seat in the 2021 Playoffs with a win. Naturally, the Stewart-Haas Racing team were utterly delighted. In fact, crew chief Mike Bugarewicz confessed that the victory was hard-earned and was quite an emotional one.
He said, “It has been such a challenging year. It’s been a long time since this team has been in Victory Lane. We are a good team, we are a team that had a lot of opportunities to win during the year. It is challenging because performances have been down and the team worked so hard. You’re working so much harder when you’re off and you tax a lot of things in your personal life. After the year we’ve had and all the struggles, this one is definitely very sweet.”
Why is Stewart-Haas Racing so happy with the win?
Last year, the outfit had a dream season with Kevin Harvick. He notched up the most wins in the season and almost won the 2020 Cup Series title. Sadly he fell short in the penultimate race, but he was still proud of his efforts. The bad news is that Stewart-Haas Racing has not enjoyed the same kind of dominance this year.
Jun 20, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola (10) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell (20) race during the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
So when Aric Almirola won at New Hampshire, it cemented his place in the Playoffs. With Kevin Harvick comfortably nestled in 10th place, it means that at least two Stewart-Haas Racing cars are in the 2021 Cup Series Playoffs. Without a doubt, the 2021 Playoff seats will be hotly contested, given that 3 slots are left with four races to go.
Admittedly, it will be difficult for the likes of Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer to enter the playoff. Their only hope of qualifying is if they somehow manage to snag an unexpected win. However, that will be difficult when pitted against Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing.