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‘The more chaos the better’

Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Steve Letarte break down all the craziness and rules violations from Sunday's NASCAR Cup playoff race at Talladega.

With rain in the forecast this weekend for the Charlotte Roval, Aric Almirola says “the more chaos the better.”

Almirola enters Sunday’s elimination Cup race last among the 12 playoff contenders. He trails Joey Logano by 48 points for the final transfer spot. Almirola says he’s in a must-win situation.

But Almirola has only two top-10 finishes in 20 Cup road course starts. His best finish is eighth at Sonoma in 2018.

Rain, he hopes, could help him.

The forecast calls for a 66% chance of rain for the start of Sunday’s Cup race. Goodyear will have rain tires. NASCAR will run in the rain provided there is not standing water on the course or the rainfall is extreme. The forecast is about the same for Saturday’s Xfinity playoff race.

“I think for us at this point the more chaos the better,” Almirola said Tuesday of the forecast for rain Sunday. “It creates more opportunities and more chances for other people to have bad races and for us to capitalize on that.

“Where we are at in points, if we have a bad race, so what? We are currently not in a position to make it anyway so we have to win. If there is rain or something else that is going to create more chaos and potential for more wrecks and more attrition, then that could potentially work out in our favor.

“I would not say that I am a road course expert by any stretch of the imagination and certainly have very, very little experience of racing in the rain. I don’t think it plays into my favor as far as being my expertise, but the idea of it creating more chaos and more attrition you never know what could happen in those sort of circumstances.”

Only three times in Cup history have rain tires been employed. Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin used them in a test in 1995 at Watkins Glen. Teams practiced and qualified on rain tires at Suzuka in 1997 for the exhibition race in Japan. Rain tires were last used in Cup for a practice session at Watkins Glen in 2000.

Almirola faces a must-win situation because of his results the past two races in this round. He was 17th at Las Vegas and finished 37th at Talladega.

“We are certainly in a position of desperation,” Almirola said. “We have to go there and we have to win. We are going to be aggressive, and we are going to race to try to win. You saw that at Talladega.

“I thought going into Talladega that while we didn’t need to win, we needed to score a lot of points to put ourselves in position going into the Roval. I was aggressive and raced super hard and had ourselves in position to score 10 stage points and win Stage 1 at Talladega. That will be the same mindset here, to be on the offense and do everything we can to go forward and try to win.”