Almirola Continues To Out Perform 2018

Aric Almirola

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn fresh off a top-10 finish at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Statistically, this is Almirola’s best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season through the first 14 races.

His strong start began with six consecutive top-10s after being wrecked in the closing laps of the season-opening Daytona 500. Through 14 races, he has amassed eight top-10s, one top-five, one pole and has led 99 laps. He is 12thin the championship standings with 393 points. Through the first 14 races of 2018, Almirola only had six top-10s, no top-fives, no poles and only led a single lap, but was 11th in the standings. Aside from Almirola’s misfortune at this year’s Daytona 500, his only other episode of back luck came when he was wrecked on lap two at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in April after qualifying sixth –13 positions better than last year’s spring Bristol race.

Even more impressive is the number of races Almirola has led for the first time in his career. After earning his first career pole award at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February, he went on to lead his first 36 laps at the 1.5-mile oval. Just two weeks later, Almirola led the first 26 laps of his career at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. The following week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, he led the field for seven laps and, two weeks later at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Almirola led laps for the first time there – three in all – after battling a stomach bug just hours before the green flag waved.

“It’s great to see how far we’ve come over the years and have continued to progress,” Almirola said. “I’m so grateful to have incredible partners like Smithfield, Ford Performance and a No. 10 Ford team who are always hungry for more. We started off so strong, had some bad luck, and we’re still more competitive than we were last year, but we’re competitors and we’ll always want more. Michigan is a track that we have progressed at, as well, so I’m excited to get back there to compete for a win in Ford’s back yard.”

While Almirola comes off last weekend’s Pocono top-10, he’s also coming off a top-10 at Michigan in his last visit there last August, when he started 11th and finished seventh. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick won that race after teammate Clint Bowyer won the rain-shortened Michigan race in June – on the front end of a 1-2-3 finish by SHR. Not surprisingly, SHR and Ford Performance have high hopes for this weekend’s Fire Keepers Casino 400.

In Almirola’s 13 starts at the 2-mile oval, he has earned one top-10 and led three laps. His last three finishes at Michigan have been the best of his career there – 12th in August 2017, 11th in June 2018, and last August’s seventh-place run.

Almirola has two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Michigan, winning in June 2010 after leading seven laps for his second win in the series that season. Additionally, the Tampa native made three Michigan starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a best finish of eighth in June 2015 while piloting the No. 98 DenBeste Water Solutions Ford.

Michigan marks the 14th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang in 2019. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

From his 12th-place position in the standings, Almirola sits 51 points ahead of the cutoff line for the Cup Series playoffs with 12 regular-season races to go.

Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
 

How crazy are the restarts at Michigan, and are they the best times to take advantage of someone?

“We’re seeing restarts get crazier and crazier at tracks that we go to. There’s no one track that they’re crazier at than the other anymore because that is the most opportune time to pass cars, besides on pit road. Pit road is the easiest place to pass but, once you line up for the restart, there’s opportunity to gain three, four, five spots in a lap, and there’s no other opportunity to do something like that throughout the run. I feel like restarts are definitely the time to gain or lose track position, so you have to be on offense and defense at the same time. Michigan is very wide and you want to be aggressive and go take spots away, but you can easily give up four or five spots that are really hard to get back once we get single file.”

 

Some tracks are very line-sensitive on restarts. Is Michigan one of them? 

“Yes, Michigan is a very line-sensitive on restarts. The outside lane is usually the dominant lane. The inside lane – the cars on the inside usually lose sideforce, they lose the air on the side of their car and they are very loose down there in turns one and two on the restart. The outside lane usually has the momentum and is the preferred lane going through (turns) one and two on the restarts.”

 

No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
Round 14 of 36 – Firekeepers Casino 400 – Michigan 
Car No. 10: Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report

At Track PR Contact: Dakota Hunter with True Speed Communication (Dakota.Hunter@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)

Primary Team:

 

Driver: Aric Almirola 

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

 

Crew Chief: John Klausmeier

Hometown: Perry Hall, Maryland

 

Car Chief: Chad Haney

Hometown: Fairmont, West Virginia

 

Engine Builder: Roush Yates Engines

Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Engine Specialist: Jon Phillips

Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri

 

Spotter: Joel Edmonds

Hometown: Dobson, North Carolina

 

Over-The-Wall Crew:

Fuelman: Jeremy Howard

Hometown: Dalhart, Texas

 

Front Changer: Daniel Coffey

Hometown: Granite Falls, North Carolina

 

Carrier: Jon Bernal

Hometown: Shelby, North Carolina

 

Rear Changer: Chris McMullenHometown: Canton, Michigan

 

Jackman: Brett Morell

Hometown: Windham, Maine

Road Crew:

 

Transporter Driver: Todd Cable and Scott Robins

Hometowns: Shelby, North Carolina, and Woodsville, New Hampshire, respectively

 

Tire Technician: Keith Eads

Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

 

Shock Specialist: Brian Holshouser

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Engineers: Mike Cook and Marc Hendricksen

Hometowns: Annapolis, Maryland, and Clinton, New Jersey, respectively

 

Underneath Mechanic: Stephen Gonzalez

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Front End Mechanic: J.D. Frey

Hometown: Ferndale, California

 

Interior Mechanic: Trevor Adams

Hometown: Naples, Florida

Notes of Interest:

 

●  Aric Almirola will make his 295th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 13th at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

 

●  The 35-year-old driver has an average Michigan start of 19.6 and an average finish of 18.5. He has earned one top-10 and has led three laps at the 2-mile oval.

 

●  Almirola has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track located in the Michigan’s Irish Hills with a best finish of eighth. The Ford driver has two starts there in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with his June 2010 start resulting in a victory.

 

●  Career: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 16 top-five finishes, 57 top-10s and 456 laps led in 294 starts.

 

●  2019: Almirola has earned one pole, one top-five finish, eight top-10s and has led 99 laps in 14 races this season.

 

●  Last win: Almirola’s Oct. 14, 2018 win at Talladega was his most recent in the Cup Series.

 

●  Point standings: Almirola is 12th in the Cup Series standings with 393 points, 175 out of first place and 51 ahead of the cutoff line for the NASCAR playoffs with 12 regular-season races remaining.

 

●  Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier is in his second full-time season as a Cup Series crew chief. The Perry Hall, Maryland, native transitioned from an engineer to Almirola’s crew chief for the 2018 season. Klausmeier has one win as a substitute crew chief while filling in for Tony Gibson at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June 2016, and one win as a crew chief for Almirola last fall at Talladega. As a race engineer at SHR, Klausmeier worked with drivers Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch.

 

●  Smithfield rejoined SHR this season and will be the primary partner for the majority of the season on the No. 10 Ford Mustang piloted by Almirola. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

 

●  Meijer, the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based American supercenter chain with over half of its locations in Michigan, will adorn the rear of Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang this weekend. Meijer’s core values are customers, family, competition, freshness, safety and health.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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