After a Top-20 finish in Pocono this past weekend, Aric Almirola jumped two positions in the Championship Point Standings to 24th place. Almirola is looking forward to going back to the Irish Hills of Michigan in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford to continue his climb through the standings after a string of disappointing finishes. Richard Petty Motorsports is continuing to strengthen the team's intermediate track program, and in manufacturer Ford's backyard, the team is hoping to show the results of hard work and dedication to the program. Almirola's strongest finish at a mile-and-a-half track this year was a 15th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Almirola made eight starts at Michigan International Raceway in the Sprint Cup Series. His best finish at the track came last season in the August race when he came to the checkers in the14th position. He has a best starting position of fourth place. Almirola scored a Camping World Truck Series win at Michigan in the 2010 season.
Smithfield will host the Whole Hog Challenge on Sunday morning at the Smithfield display in Michigan International Speedway's Fan Midway. Pre-selected fans will compete to eat eight Smithfield ribs the fastest. The contest will be judged by Aric Almirola and "The King" Richard Petty. The winner of the Whole Hog Challenge will go to Miami at the end of the 2016 season to compete in the final round of the challenge to attempt to be crowned the champion.
When: Sunday, June 12 at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Smithfield Display in the Fan Midway at Michigan International Speedway
Almirola will stop by the Ford Display in Michigan International Speedway's Fan Midway to answer fans' questions. The Q&A will be open to the public. Make sure to have your questions ready!
When: Sunday, June 12 at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Ford Display in the Fan Midway at Michigan International Speedway
Fans can get in the car with Almirola by listening to his live in-car radio feed on SiriusXM Radio Channel 134 during the Firekeepers Casino 400.
"I'm really looking forward to heading back to Michigan International Speedway. Last year, when we raced there, we had higher downforce and higher drag. That package really didn't do what we were hoping for though. Everyone was hoping that we would run side-by-side, be able to draft more and make slingshot passes. But, we didn't do any of that. It just created a big hole in the air and made it incredibly difficult to drive behind other cars. So I'm really hoping that by NASCAR reducing the dowforce even more for this trip to Michigan that the cars will be able to drive a whole lot better in traffic or at least the car that's leading the race isn't going to be running perfectly. He's not going to be running wide open and just hauling the mail while the guys behind him have to let off the gas because they're in dirty air. At least now if we all have to let off the gas because we don't have the downforce to make the car grip through the corner, then it'll create opportunities to pass because we have a variation in speed. Our team participated in the tire test there a couple of weeks ago, and it went well. So I'm looking forward to getting our No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion out on the track this weekend."