Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) enter the season’s first race on a mile oval Sunday at Phoenix Raceway fresh off an eighth-place finish last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Over the offseason, crew chief Mike Bugarewicz moved from SHR’s No. 14 team with Clint Bowyer to the No. 10 team with Almirola. After three 2020 starts, the team is confident heading to Phoenix after running as high as fourth at Fontana and putting together a respectable top-10 finish in its Ford Mustang.
“I thought we had a top-five car in Fontana and we just kept giving away all of our track position,” Almirola said. “We have to do better, but we are building and we got a top-10 and we will take that and move on. I think we have a lot of potential. I think Buga (Bugarewicz) and all the guys did a great job with our Smithfield Ford Mustang and I felt like we had a top-10 car going into the race and we proved that.”
Statistically speaking at Phoenix, it would be safe to forecast another strong run for the No. 10 Ford team this weekend. In three of Almirola’s last four Cup Series starts at the desert oval, he has earned two top-five finishes and another top-10.
Of Almirola’s 62 top-10s earned in 319 career Cup Series starts, 19 have been at tracks a mile in length or shorter. In 18 career starts at Phoenix, Almirola has totaled two top-four finishes, four top-10s and has led 26 laps. He has an average finish of 12.7 there and is ranked ninth among all drivers in the last 10 races.
“We still have a lot to learn as a team, but we’re on the right track,” Almirola said. “We still need a bit more to compete for wins every weekend and I’m thankful for the guys and girls at Stewart-Haas who have worked so hard during the offseason to make sure we start strong, and we have.”
Almirola has certainly excelled in his seven NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix, having captured the pole in November 2011 to go with 74 laps led and a pair of top-10 finishes. Earlier in his career, Almirola made three starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at the “Diamond in the Desert.” Two of those three starts resulted in top-five finishes, and he led a total of 52 laps.
Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 62 top-10s and 543 laps led in 319 starts. His last win came in October 2018 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Smithfield Foods, Inc., who will sponsor Almirola’s car this weekend and at the majority of 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. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Almirola continues to provide fans with content from 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 hereto subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.
The Smithfield Ford driver looks to build on his short-track success this weekend and looks to add his sixth-top 10 at Phoenix, third top-five or, the ultimate prize, a win in the desert.
Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What makes Phoenix so unique?
“Phoenix is just a fast short track. Ever since the repave, it races like a mile-and-a-half, which is different from a Richmond-, Martinsville- or Bristol-type of short track. It’s a fun race and I always look forward to heading out West to Phoenix.”
What’s the most important thing to be successful at Phoenix?
“You have to have everything at Phoenix. You have to have downforce, grip in your car and good brakes. You have to make sure your car turns well across the center of turns one and two, which is a sharp, banked corner. And then you have turns three and four, which are really fast and sweeping and flat. You’ve got to have a car that’s versatile and is a good compromise for both corners.”
No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
Round 4 of 36 – Fanshield 500k – Phoenix Raceway
Car No. 10: Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
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
Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener
Hometown: Fortuna, California
Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson
Hometown: Simi Valley, Calif.
Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard
Hometown: King, North Carolina
Rear Tire Changer: Chris McMullen
Hometown: Canton, Michigan
Jackman: Corbin Martin
Hometown: Winston Salem, North Carolina
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:
● Almirola will make his 18th Cup Series start at Phoenix this weekend to bring his total of career Cup Series starts to 320.
o The Smithfield driver is looking to capture his second consecutive top-10 finish of the season.
● Almirola has earned five top-10 finishes and two top-fives in 17 Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
o Four of those top-10 finishes have come in his last six visits to Phoenix.
o His top-five finish of fourth last March ties his best career finish at the desert mile oval.
● Career: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 62 top-10s and 543 laps led in 319 starts.
● Last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Almirola finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points and finished eighth overall to earn his first top-10 of the season.
● 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, Virginia, 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!