No. 10 Smithfield Ford Racing: Aric Almirola St. Louis Advance

Notes of Interest


●  This weekend marks the second NASCAR Cup Series race at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. Almirola returns to the 1.25-mile oval with confidence after the No. 10 team ran inside the top-five for the majority of the inaugural race last year and brought home a solid fifth-place finish. In addition to the single Cup Series start, his three NASCAR Truck Series starts there add to his confidence, as well. In the 2006 Truck Series race, Almirola started 22nd and finished 10th, he started 15thand earned a solid fourth-place finish in 2009, and in 2010 he started 16th before leading 16 laps and finishing eighth.


●  The No. 10 Smithfield Ford team’s season has been a rollercoaster ride. It got off to a strong start during the first two outings of the season. Almirola won his heat race and started on the pole for the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Then, in the points-paying season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the 39-year-old veteran won his Duel qualifying race and led 16 laps of the Daytona 500 – the most laps he’s led at Daytona in 23 starts. Almirola and his team were mired by bad luck at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Phoenix Raceway and Richmond (Va.) Raceway in subsequent races, unable to capitalize on newfound top-10 and top-five speed. He then led the field for a combined 28 laps during what were promising days at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, but a late-race accident ended Almirola’s day at Atlanta and he posted a 22nd-place finish at Talladega. His best outing of the early season came April 16 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where he qualified third, ran up front all race long and earned a sixth-place finish and 42 points in the driver standings. Almirola and the No. 10 team continued to show improvement in their speed at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but the finishes have not been indicative of the potential top-10 runs they have had. The 39-year-old looks to capitalize this weekend at a track he feels confident about.


●  Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Charlotte 26th in the driver standings, 233 points out of first.


●  Almirola’s career: In 438 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 92 top-10s, four poles, and has led 1,018 laps.


●  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.


●  Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2023, Almirola is continuing to share his life beyond the No. 10 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 the show 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:


You had a solid race at Gateway last year. Do you look forward to heading back there this weekend?


“I’ve had this race circled on the calendar all year. I love the way this track races and we had a car fast enough to win it last year. Our cars have continued to show consistent speed over the past few weekends, too. If last year was any indication, I think you’re going to see Stewart-Haas up front as we saw in Martinsville – hopefully dominating the race again, which is where we belong. We just have to have a clean day on pit road and I have to do my part.”


It seems qualifying is more important than ever. Do you find that to be the case?


“Qualifying is more important than ever. Unfortunately, we have had a few races like Dover and Charlotte, where qualifying gets rained out and I have to start somewhere around 20th with the metrics system. It’s important to qualify well with these cars because it’s so hard to pass and, if you can hold your position up front in the first two stages, you have a chance to earn stage points and ultimately a shot at the win at the end. Our finishes don’t show how well we have run this year because we’ve had to come from the back a lot. Last weekend, we fell like a rock in the first stage and then we were back up to eighth place in the third stage, so I hope we get to qualify this weekend so we can get up front and stay there like we did at Martinsville.”