Notes of Interest
● Aric Almirola at Las Vegas: In 19 starts on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway desert oval, Almirola has four top-10s, all coming since he joined SHR in 2018. Almirola’s sixth-place finish at Las Vegas last March was the No. 10 team’s third straight top-10 finish to start the season and fifth in a row dating back to the 2021’s penultimate race Oct. 31 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
● Almirola had a strong start to this season by winning his heat race and starting on the pole during the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. Then, at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the 38-year-old veteran won his Duel qualifying race and led 16 laps of the points-paying season-opening Daytona 500 – the most laps he’s led at Daytona in 23 starts.
● Last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Almirola started 17th after qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather. Almirola ran in and around the top-15 until he was caught in a multicar accident not of his doing. It was his 200th consecutive NASCAR Cup Series start.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Las Vegas 25th in the driver standings with 31 points.
● Almirola’s career: In 427 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 91 top-10s, three poles, and has led 990 laps.
● Smithfield Foods rejoins Almirola and the No. 10 Ford team as the anchor sponsor for the 2023 NASCAR season. Fans will see the iconic white, black, and gold scheme adorn Almirola’s Ford Mustang. Smithfield has been a sponsor of Almirola’s for the entirety of his fulltime NASCAR Cup Series career – making it one of the longest-lasting partnerships in NASCAR. Smithfield is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 63,000 team members are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly.®” Smithfield is one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. The company has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including its industry-leading commitments to become carbon negative in U.S. company-owned operations and reduce GHG emissions 30 percent across its entire U.S. value chain by 2030. Smithfield believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to local communities.
● Back for More: Last year, Almirola announced that he would step down from fulltime racing following the 2022 season.Through the course of the year, he discovered a new balance between his passion for racing and dedication to his family. His wife Janice, and kids Alex and Abby, joined him on most race weekends, oftentimes enjoying once-in-a-lifetime experiences together as they traveled the country. His rapport with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer flourished, and the intense pressure he had put on himself was replaced with the joy of simply being present. Not only did Almirola see the sport from a new perspective, so did anchor partner Smithfield Foods, who broached the subject of Almirola returning to fulltime racing in 2023. On Aug. 26 in the media center of Daytona, Almirola, SHR and Smithfield Foods announced his return with a multiyear agreement and Smithfield’s largest allotment of races since joining the team in 2018.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2023, Almirola will continue to share his life beyond the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with season five 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.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
When you arrived at Las Vegas last year, you were the only driver to secure three consecutive top-10 finishes. What led to that success?
“I think last year we were all just trying to figure out the setup of the cars and I felt really good to start the season. I thought it was going to be my last, so I just soaked it all in and enjoyed the ride. I’m still doing that, but I feel even more prepared and more determined than ever to have a successful team. Last year, that was just a testament to Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) and the team’s hard work back at the shop and they gave me a good car capable of running top-10. We struggled a bit in October, but we also were not in the playoffs at the time, so that plays a role in it.”
What do you like about racing at Las Vegas?
“I really like Vegas, but it is such a tricky track to get dialed in at, but we learned a lot last year about the car. We’re continuing to see growth with this team from last year – just having notes to go off and making the right decisions for the car. We have adapted all year with what we know and you’ll continue to see that all year with this 10 team.”
You were caught in an accident last weekend at Fontana with nowhere to go. What happened?
“I took off on the restart and went from second to third gear and, all of a sudden, everybody in front of us just stopped. I think the leader was just playing games, trying to prevent the runs coming from behind, and where they stopped in the middle of the restart zone was right about where they should’ve been accelerating. It was just a huge accordion effect. We were back in 16th, so everybody just started stacking up, and you can’t stop on a dime. It’s disappointing to get wrecked out of the race like that on a silly Mickey Mouse restart, but I should’ve known better.”