No. 10 Smithfield Ford Racing: Aric Almirola Chicago Advance

Notes of Interest


●  This weekend marks the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race on the streets of Chicago – the first street-course race in NASCAR’s 75-year history. In an effort to continue the growth and excitement of NASCAR among fans, this 2.2-mile 12-turn temporary circuit has come full circle from a virtual idea to one of the most anticipated races the series has ever hosted. In March of 2021, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series announced a track layout on the street of downtown Chicago. After a detailed laser scan of the physical streets, the downtown Chicago Street Course was created. On June 2, 37 drivers competed virtually during a live FOX broadcast, which piqued the interest of both fans and the league to recreate the event in real life.


●  In Almirola’s 12-year fulltime NASCAR career, he never considered himself to be a road-course racer – until three weeks ago. While a Cup Series win remains the ultimate goal for Almirola, the 39-year-old veteran on June 10 made his way to victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, driving the No. 28 RSS Racing Ford Mustang. It was the first road-course victory of his career. Almirola’s best road-course outing in the Cup Series also came at Sonoma in 2018, when he finished eighth. He made it back-to-back top-10 finishes at the track when he returned for a ninth-place result in 2019.


●  Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Chicago 27th in the driver standings, 304 points out of first.


●  Almirola’s career: In 441 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:


What are some challenges teams will face heading to a street course for the first time?


“The way the car handles and drives across the crown in the road and the bumps and uneven surfaces are all going to play a role in making this a challenging race for all of us. It’s something we have never had to deal with. We race on tracks that are purposefully built for racecars and they have a continuous grade of banking. We’re going to have to attack the track, and the condition of the car is so much different than we’re used to.”


Are you excited to race on the streets of downtown Chicago?


“I’m excited, nervous, anxious all of the above. I’m excited to do something we have never done, but there is always anxiousness about the unknown and not knowing what to expect. It’s going to be such a fantastic event for the fans. There is so much to do around the course and it’s going to be a lot of fun for them not only during the race but before and after. As a driver, I’m looking forward to saying that I got to race on the streets of Chicago.”


How do you think the racing is going to be compared to other road courses?


“I think Chicago is certainly a racetrack where you’re going to have to be very aggressive. The surface is going to be very interesting where they’ve repaved or where they’ve not repaved. What we’ve learned so far in the simulator is that we think it’s pretty low grip and it’s pretty rough with a lot of tight, blind corners. You have to be really aggressive in the braking zones and get in the corners deep but still make the corner. And there’s a huge penalty at Chicago compared to all the true road courses that we go to if you don’t make the corner, so I think you’re not only going to have to be aggressive, but you’re going to have to be conscious of how aggressive you are because the penalty for missing the corner at Chicago is going to be far greater than missing the corner at most road courses. At most road courses, if you overshoot the corner, you run off into the grass or the gravel a little bit. At Chicago, you’re going to crash. You’re going to hit a wall.”