On March 29, 2021, NASCAR had its first Cup Series race on dirt since 1970. And, for an event so long in the making, the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway definitely delivered. Joey Logano ended up seeing the checkered flag in thrilling overtime fashion, and after the dust had settled, he later quipped, "The guys were joking that I'm going to change my name to Joe Dirt now." But, not everyone was as lucky as the Team Penske driver.
Unfortunately for the No 10. Ford team, Aric Almirola's day at Bristol ended early after he triggered the "Big One" on lap 41. Thankfully, the wreck wasn't nearly as bad as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver's crash at Kansas Speedway back in 2017, which lead to a major spinal injury and almost ended his career. But, the Bristol incident still made for a pretty chaotic scene. With the dirt whipping all around, it kind of looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie.
As you can see from the footage, the chain-reaction crash went down after Almirola attempted to make a pass on Stewart Friesen. Unfortunately, Almirola ended up clipping the dirt curbing on the track's apron, which caused him to spin out on the middle of the track. He was first struck by Shane Golobic, and then hit hard by Anthony Alfredo and Corey LaJoie. The crash brought out a red flag to clean up the mess, which, when it was all said and done, effectively eliminated Almirola, Golobic, Alfredo, and LaJoie. A mixture of dirt and daylight made for tough racing conditions for the majority of the field, and in the post-race interview, Almirola reiterated the dangerous lack of visibility.
"You can't stop. You can't see. That's honestly the biggest problem," Almirola said. "In dirt racing you don't have a windshield in front of you, so you can pull a tearoff. We can't reach out there and pull a tearoff off our windshield, so you can't see anything. Everybody just comes piling in because you can't see."
Golobic, despite getting caught up in the wreck and finishing in 37th, actually enjoyed the chaotic racing conditions.
"Bristol on dirt was awesome," Golobic said in his post-race interview.
"The first however many laps we got to run, we were passing cars and having a lot of fun. It's just a shame we couldn't get more laps in. That's part of racing sometimes, getting caught up in someone else's mess."
It makes sense that Golobic, who raced in his first Cup event, would have been a little more optimistic than Almirola, who's disappointing finish marked the fourth time in seven races in 2021 where he finished 30th or worse. Thankfully, his luck would improve slightly throughout the course of the season, as he went on to rack up five top-10s, including a win at New Hampshire.
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