Front row starter Aric Almirola had a top-five run going at Chicagoland, until NASCAR penalized him for a tire violation during his first green-flag pit stop.
Almirola lost a lap serving a pass-through penalty, but NASCAR reviewed the infraction, determined a penalty wasn't warranted and allowed Almirola to regain his lap. Only one problem: NASCAR couldn't restore Almirola to the fourth-place position he occupied before the penalty.
Instead, after a round of pit stops under caution on Lap 67, the driver of the No. 43 Ford restarted outside the top 20 and wasn't a factor thereafter. In his first run with crew chief Todd Parrott, after an intra-team swap, Almirola finished 17th.
"That was very bizarre," Almirola said of the rescinded penalty. "They pretty much ruined our day. It was extremely tough to pass today. Track position was everything."
Almirola, at least, had speed in race trim to match his second-place qualifying effort.
"All in all, it was a good day, though," Almirola said. "I'm proud of everyone. Todd Parrott and all the guys did a great job. Our car was so fast at the beginning of the race, and we ran like we should have.
"I was proud of that."