Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford team will once again carry the distinctive colors of Eckrich this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. As Eckrich continues to honor military families, the No. 43 Ford will again carry a splash of red-white-and-blue by featuring the star-spangled logo of Operation Homefront, a national non-profit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.
This summer, Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, has partnered with Operation Homefront to support military families. The company has already donated $200,000 to Operation Homefront through the contribution of five cents from each purchase of specially marked products from May 1 through July 4.
The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team is personally aware of the sacrifice of military families. More than half of the members of the team have had a parent, sibling or spouse serve, including Almirola and crew chief Mike Ford. Almirola's father served as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force while Ford's brother also served in the U.S. Air Force.
Almirola comes into Michigan ready to make his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the track. He's a former winner in the Truck Series at Michigan.
Comments from Eckrich Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"I think if you start asking your friends, you'll quickly find out that there are many families that have been affected by a family member who has served in the military. I know what it's like because my father was in the U.S. Air Force. It's a big sacrifice by the entire family when someone is serving. Sometimes the family at home doesn't get the recognition, so that's why this program has been so cool. We're taking the time to honor our veterans, but also their family members as well.
"Michigan has been a good track for me. I won there in the Truck Series and have some good finishes in the Nationwide Series. During our first race in the Cup car in June we showed a lot of speed during the race weekend. We tested the new tire a few weeks ago and we're all going to see some slower speeds, but I think we can still have a good weekend. We want to have a good showing for Eckrich and Operation Homefront."
Comments from Eckrich Ford Fusion Crew Chief Mike Ford:
"There are guys on our team that understand the sacrifice of our military members and their families. Some of them have gone through it themselves or have seen another relative go through the sacrifice while someone is serving. My brother just retired from the U.S. Air Force after many years of service. I know the sacrifice he put in and everyone in our family is very proud of that. I think that's why we have really enjoyed helping entertain our Eckrich and Operation Homefront guests this summer. It's been rewarding for us to be a part of it.
"Michigan will be another challenge this time around because we're coming back with a new tire. We had a good test and learned a lot. It's going to be a different race because the speeds will not be as high. We're going to have to rely on our notes from the test and go from there."