Aric Almirola winning a NASCAR Cup Series race in 2021 was practically inevitable considering he hails from Tampa, Florida.
Entering Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola sat in 27th point in the point standings, well below the playoff cut line and effectively in need of a win to get into the playoffs for the fourth straight season with just five races remaining on the 26-race regular season schedule.
He had finished in 14th place or worse in 11 of the last 12 races, with seven of those results being finishes of 22nd or worse.
Additionally, Stewart-Haas Racing, which won a series-high 10 races in the 2020 season, had not shown winning speed all year long.
Translation: nobody expected Almirola to run at the front, much less win Sunday’s race.
But that’s just what he did. And let’s be honest with ourselves; we all should have expected it, and for one reason: he hails from Tampa, Florida.
Ever since it was confirmed in March 2020 that Tom Brady would be leaving the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, teams from Tampa can’t seem to stop winning.
First, the Tampa Bay Lightning won their first Stanley Cup since the 2003-2004 season that September. The Tampa Bay Rays then advanced to their first World Series since the 2008 season the following month.
The Rays didn’t win the World Series, but hey, we’re not saying Almirola is going to win the 2021 Cup Series championship — though stranger things have happened.
Then the Buccaneers secured their first playoff berth since the 2007-2008 season, and they went on to win their first Super Bowl since the 2002-2003 season, which is also when they had earned their most recent postseason win prior to going 4-0 in this past season’s playoffs.
They became the first non-division winner to win the Super Bowl since the Green Bay Packers won it in the 2010-2011 season, and they became the first team to win it without having the advantage of a first round bye since the Baltimore Ravens won it in the 2012-2013 season.
And it didn’t stop there, as earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup for a second year in a row.
Almirola was just keeping up the trend.
WynnBET lists the Super Bowl LV champion Buccaneers as the second favorite at +700 behind the Super Bowl LIV champion and two-time reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs at +500 to win Super Bowl LVI. They list the Lightning as tied for second with the Vegas Golden Knights at +650 behind the Colorado Avalanche to win next year’s Stanley Cup.
They don’t currently have odds on the Rays winning this year’s World Series, though somewhere in the +1200 to +1600 range is right around where they will likely end up once those odds are activated again, based on the current trends.
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They also don’t currently list odds for NASCAR with the series in the midst of a three-week hiatus, but based on how things are trending, Almirola is expected to be in the +4000 to +6000 range when they are activated.
With just 16 drivers in the playoffs, there could be good value in those odds, given the fact that he almost advanced to the Championship 4 in 2018 after securing what had been, prior to this past weekend, his most recent victory at Talladega Superspeedway that October.
Plus, the speed that Stewart-Haas Racing and the other Ford teams, specifically Team Penske, showed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a great sign considering the fact that the package used is set to be used at more than half of the tracks on the four-round, 10-race playoff schedule, including the final two.