For the first of three NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season, the Eckrich colors will adorn the hood and sides of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford this weekend at the mile-and-a-half Kentucky Speedway. But, that will not be the only logo that driver Aric Almirola will race with. In a partnership with Eckrich, the Operation Homefront logo will also be on the car. Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, has partnered with Operation Homefront to support military families by donating five cents from the purchase of specially-marked products, up to $200,000, from now through July 4.
In addition to the awareness on the car, Almirola and his Petty team will be hosting a military family at the track this weekend. The team will also hold a media function Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. local time outside the No. 43 team transporter. At this time, Richard Petty, Almirola, Operation Homefront and the military family guests will unveil and discuss a unique way for fans to help support Operation Homefront and military families.
Almirola comes to Kentucky for the first time in a Sprint Cup Series car, but can rely on his experiences in the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series. There he has a total of five starts with two top-five finishes and one top-10 finish.
Comments from Eckrich/Operation Homefront Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"Kentucky should be a lot of fun for us. Mike Ford has really helped us elevate our entire race program, but especially our mile-and-a-half packages. After winning the pole at Charlotte, that has really given us a lot of confidence at the tracks we race at the most. We still have work to do, but we feel confident when we get there.
"It's cool to have Eckrich and Operation Homefront on the car this weekend. We met them at the Prelude to The Dream, but it's really special to have everyone here at Kentucky for a Cup race. I was born on an Air Force base in Florida where my father worked, so I know that our service men and women sacrifice a ton, especially their families. The partnership between Eckrich and Operation Homefront is very special and I really support their efforts. We'll also be hosting a military family as our guests and hopefully we can show them a good finish Saturday night.
Comments from Crew Chief Mike Ford on Kentucky:
"Kentucky Speedway has a lot of character. It's got some bumps you have to work through and a couple different grooves you can use, so we'll definitely be using that first practice session to get Aric acclimated to the track and comfortable behind the wheel, and then focus on getting as much speed out of the car as we can for Friday night qualifying.
"Of course, this is only the second time that the Cup series is racing at Kentucky, so it's not like everyone else has really extensive notebooks to lean on. We're all still learning the track together. But I feel good about our mile-and-a-half program and what we're taking there. We're actually taking the same car we had at Charlotte, where we qualified on the pole. I think this can be another good track for Aric and that we can run at the top of the board again."