● The Memorial Day weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway is one of the most patriotic events in sports, honoring fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This weekend, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Smithfield Foods, and Aric Almirola will honor Master-at-Arms Second Class (MA2) Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal from Task Unit Bruiser. Monsoor paid the ultimate sacrifice on September 29, 2006 during operation Iraqi freedom. When a grenade was thrown at the rooftop where he and his fellow sailors were positioned, Monsoor jumped on top of the grenade, absorbing the blast and saving them. Two years later, Monsoor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in 2008. The USS Michael Monsoor, the second ship in the Zumwalt class of guided missile destroyers, was also named in his honor.
● In addition to Monsoor, two other members of Task Unit Bruiser will be honored on the hood of Almirola’s Mustang this weekend – Petty Officer Second Class Ryan C. Job and Petty Officer Second Class Marc A. Lee.
● The recommendation to honor Monsoor and Task Unit Bruiser came from Almirola’s longtime partner Smithfield Foods. Dennis Organ, CEO of Smithfield, met Jocko Willink, the commander of Task Unit Bruiser, during a leadership building program hosted by Willink and his company, Echelon Front. Echelon Front’s mission is to educate, train, mentor, and empower leaders and organizations to achieve total victory. Echelon Front applies unmatched leadership experiences in the most dynamic and complex environments to help clients solve problems, overcome obstacles, and win.
● In addition to honoring Monsoor and Task Unit Bruiser, SHR will be showing its admiration for all who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the challenges faced by their families by supporting the America’s Mighty Warriors Foundation. Debbie Lee, after the death of her son and Navy Seal Marc Lee, started America's Mighty Warriors to honor and support troops, veterans and Gold Star families. The foundation provides programs and therapies that improve quality of life, resiliency and recovery after injury or loss. To learn more, request assistance or to find out what can be done to help, visit www.AmericasMightyWarriors.org.
● History at Charlotte Motor Speedway: In 15 starts, Almirola has one top-10 finish and has led four laps. Last year, Almirola finished 15th and 20th in the two Charlotte oval races, respectively.
● In Almirola’s last 10 starts at 1.5-mile tracks, he has earned four top-10 finishes, one top-five and has led 164 laps.
● Career Stats: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 24 top-five finishes, 80 top-10s and 842 laps led in 366 NASCAR Cup Series starts.
● Smithfield Foods celebrates 10 years of partnership with Almirola this season with a special campaign called Taste Victory.As one of the most active partners in NASCAR, Smithfield plans to engage fans all year long by hosting a microsite that provides the opportunity to win when Almirola wins or finishes inside the top-10. When Almirola wins, one fan wins $10,000, and 10 fans win a gift card for each top-10 finish. The microsite also doubles as an Aric Almirola fan page and entertainment source where fans can get behind the wheel of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with a custom racing game, and learn more about Almirola with fast facts, favorite recipes and custom content about his life on and off the track. Visit www.tastevictory.com to learn more. Thanks to Almirola’s Feb. 11 win in his Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500, one lucky fan has already won $10,000.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series:In 2021, Almirola continues to share his life beyond the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with season three of his award-winning YouTube series. Fans and media can subscribe on YouTube to see Almirola’s personality on and off the track. Episodes have already featured life as a dad, a husband and an athlete, and it gives fans a unique perspective on what goes on in the life of a professional NASCAR driver. Fans can also follow Almirola’s social media channels: @Aric_Almirola on Twitter and Instagram, and @AricAlmirola on Facebook.
● The Smithfield Ford team sits 28th in the championship standings with 180 points, 417 behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
How cool is it to honor members of the military who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom this Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte?
“This is the coolest weekend all year. Being able to race and pay tribute to the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for me to live in the greatest country in the world is really cool. My dad was in the Air Force, so I know firsthand what the families have sacrificed. There are men and women who wake up every day and fight for our freedom and some of them lay down their lives for us. We get to do really cool things and I get to drive a racecar for a living without the worry of being attacked. We take it for granted that we live in a safe and free country. Honoring the military members who paid the ultimate sacrifice this weekend is the least we can do.”
Tell us what it means to you to specifically honor Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael Monsoor on your No. 10 Smithfield Ford this weekend.
“Michael not only served his country, but selflessly protected other men in his own unit. He laid down his life protecting everyone he could. That kind of selfless act deserves as much recognition as we can possible give him. It seems to me that Michael and I had some things in common, too. He loved to go fast and he had fun with everything he did. His mother told us, no matter what it was, he always had fun and went all out on everything from driving, surfing or snowboarding. I’m grateful to be able to honor him and his family on our car this weekend and I hope we can make them proud.”
What does it take to win the Coke 600?
“It’s a hundred miles longer than any other race we run, which provides a challenge in and of itself. On top of that, there is an extra stage, which gives us the opportunity to earn more points. The cars have less grip when the sun is out and they tend to slip and slide a lot more. As the sun goes down, the track gets more grip and we start going faster. That’s one of the very unique things about this race. What you have from a driveability and balance standpoint from the racecar at the beginning of the race is not what you have at the end. You’re trying to figure out what it takes to get your car to win at the end and you have to be good at all facets because there are a lot of points to be made.”