Almirola Hopes The Odds Are In His Favor

Aric Almirola

This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will make his first start at a 1.5-mile track with his new crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and their new-look team.

Since joining SHR in 2018, Almirola has posted top-10 finishes in three of his four Las Vegas starts with a best finish of sixth in the fall 2018 race. He finished 13th last fall. Bugarewicz has six previous starts at Las Vegas, the last five with SHR’s No. 14 team and driver Clint Bowyer, with a best finish of 10th in the spring 2017 race and a pole qualifying effort last fall.

Almirola scored his first three Las Vegas top-10s consecutively before last fall’s 13th-place finish and plans to carry the momentum into Sunday’s first of three races of NASCAR’s annual West Coast Swing.

In addition to his Cup Series starts at Las Vegas, Almirola has four Xfinity Series starts, never finishing outside the top-17 or starting outside the top-15. The Cuban American has also made three Las Vegas starts in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and completed all three events inside the top-10.

“I’m looking forward to heading to Vegas this weekend,” he said. “It will be a great chance to grow together with ‘Buga’ and the new team to dial in communication and get on the same page. We already learned a lot during Daytona Speedweeks and I’m really looking forward to seeing where we are competitively.”

Last weekend, Almirola and his new team debuted their talents at the 62nd running of the Daytona 500. The Tampa native ran strong in the non-points Busch Clash Feb. 8, leading during the closing laps before being taken out by a competitor and ultimately finishing 10th. Almirola started the Daytona 500 fifth after finishing second in his Bluegreen Vacations Duel. He raced in and around the front and led six laps until being involved in “The Big One” on lap 183. The Smithfield Ford team was able to repair damage enough to keep Almirola on track to finish 22nd.

Almirola will again sport the iconic black, white and gold No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang this weekend at Vegas.

Smithfield Foods, Inc., who will sponsor a majority of the races this season, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly®” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. It has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including many industry firsts, such as an ambitious commitment to cut carbon impact by 25 percent by 2025. The company believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to neighbors in need. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Almirola is back with season two of his documentary series Beyond the 10 where fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

He enters the second race of the season 10th in the standings with 32 points – 18 out of first place. He’ll look to move up in the standings with another solid effort this weekend in Las Vegas.

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

What are your expectations heading to your first 1.5-mile track with the new team?

“I don’t really have expectations. I’m excited to get out there and I trust ‘Buga’ (crew chief Mike Bugarewicz) and our guys. It will be our first race together that requires a lot of communication and adjustments along the way. We’ve had speed in the past at Vegas, so I’m looking forward to building on that.”

How significant of a role do intermediate tracks play during the season?

“It’s crucial to really excel at the intermediate tracks. We have so many of them on the schedule and, if you can get them figured out, they can make a huge impact on your season. We’ve seen it so many times where teams get something figured out at those tracks. Those teams start running up front every weekend. If you look at the schedule, most of the tracks on the circuit are intermediate tracks and the most important races if you’re in the hunt for a championship.”

No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
Round 2 of 36 – Las Vegas 400 – Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway

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: Mike Bugarewicz

Hometown: Lehighton, Pennsylvania

Car Chief: Jerry Cook

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio

Engine Builder: Roush Yates Racing

Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina

Engine Tuner: Matt Moeller

Hometown: Monroe, New York

Spotter: Joel Edmonds

Hometown: Dobson, North Carolina

Over-The-Wall Crew:

Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener

Hometown: Fortuna, California

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

Hometown: Simi Valley, Calif.

Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard

Hometown: King, NC

Rear Tire Changer: Chris McMullen

Hometown: Canton, Michigan

Jackman: Corbin Martin

Hometown: Winston Salem, NC

Road Crew:

Truck Drivers: Dale Lackey and Christopher Hamilton

Hometowns: Taylorsville, North Carolina and Muncie, Indiana, respectively

Tire Specialist: Russell Simpson

Hometown: Medford, New York

Engineers: Lee Deese and James Kimbrough

Hometowns: Rockingham, North Carolina, and Pensacola, Florida, respectively

Shock Specialist: Wayne Smith

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia

Mechanics: Tony Silvestri and Robbie Fairweather

Hometowns: Sylvania, Ohio, and Westbrookville, New York respectively

Notes of Interest:

● Aric Almirola will make his 13th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday to bring his total Cup Series career starts to 318.

● He has a best finish of sixth at the 1.5-mile oval located along North Las Vegas Boulevard.

o The Tampa, Florida, native has a best starting position of fourth in the Cup Series at the mile-and-a-half track.

o Almirola earned three consecutive top-10 finishes at Las Vegas in his first three starts there with SHR.

● Almirola also has starts in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series competition at Las Vegas.

o In the Xfinity Series, the Smithfield driver has made four starts, all resulting in top-17 finishes.

o Almirola has made three starts in the Truck Series, all top-10 finishes.

Career: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 61 top-10s and 543 laps led in 317 starts.

● Last weekend at Daytona, Almirola led six laps and earned eight bonus points in Stage 1 of the Daytona 500. He was caught in “The Big One” on lap 183 while running third. He finished 22nd.

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

‘Beyond the 10’ – Almirola is back with season two of his YouTube documentary series, where fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

● Smithfield rejoined SHR this season and is the primary partner for the majority of the season on the No. 10 Ford Mustang piloted by Almirola. Headquartered since 1936 in Smithfield, Va., Smithfield Foods Inc., is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly®” and have made the company one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. It has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including many industry firsts, such as its ambitious commitment to cut carbon impact by 25 percent by 2025. The company believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to neighbors in need. Smithfield boasts a portfolio of high-quality iconic brands, such as Smithfield®, Eckrich®, and Nathan’s Famous®, among many others. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

● Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is in his fifth full-time season at SHR and his first with Almirola. To learn more click here.

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

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