Loose wheel sends Almirola crashing out of New Hampshire lead

Aric Almirola crashed from the NASCAR Cup Series race lead Monday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway because of a loose right rear wheel.

Fortune had swung Almirola’s way when the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team took two tires under a lap 162 caution to get him off pit road first. Almirola lined up as the race leader, choosing the outside lane for the restart with Kyle Larson to his inside.

There were no issues on the initial launch, but once he got to the corner, the wheel began working itself off the car. Almirola’s Ford wiggled and shot to the outside wall.

“I thought it felt a little bit awkward leaving pit road, but then after that, working my tires in and going through the gears before the restart – I spun the tires a few times – everything felt normal,” Almirola said. “I didn’t really have any concerns going into the restart, and then, obviously, the right-rear wheel came off. So, just really, really disappointed.”


An NBC Sports replay showed the lug nut was not tightened properly on the pit stop.

It had been a strong start to the day for Almirola and his team. Almirola qualified third and finished fourth in the first stage.

“This race team has been working so hard to bring fast race cars to the track,” Almirola said. “I’m so proud of everybody – Drew [Blickensderfer] and all the guys on our team. We’re not capitalizing when we have cars capable of running up-front. Just frustrating. Disappointing. All the words you can use to describe being upset is certainly where we are.

“I hate it. I hate it for Smithfield. I hate it for Ford, Mobil 1,, Go Bowling – everybody that puts so much into this program that we can’t get results.”

Story originally appeared on Racer