Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will head back to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Wednesday night for its second of back-to-back races at the 1.5-mile oval.
Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team endured a difficult evening at Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. After starting in the rear from adjustments made on the car after slight contact with the wall in qualifying, the No. 10 team persevered and made its way back to the top-10 after 398 laps. On the final restart, Almirola was shuffled to the middle lane with no help and finished 16th. If it weren’t for the final caution, Almirola would have been the highest-finishing SHR driver and third-highest Ford driver.
As the Smithfield Ford team heads back to the 1.5-mile oval, it will take some things it learned from Sunday night’s race and apply it to Wednesday night’s 208-lap race, which is nearly half of the Coca Cola 600’s.
“Sunday was a long day,” Almirola said. “We battled loose-handling conditions, then neutral, then extremely tight conditions with those long runs and it made it so difficult to pass. We won’t have those same issues coming back here on Wednesday with the stage lengths being so much shorter, so that’s something that we’ll have to adapt to. It’s nearly half of Sunday’s race, so you’re going to see completely different strategies from teams.”
Almirola will again run a special red, white and blue patriotic paint scheme with Smithfield adorning the hood. 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.
Last weekend, Almirola ran the same patriotic paint scheme that featured United States Army SPC Seth Blevins, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in 2011 in Eastern Kunar Province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
“It was a big deal,” Almirola said. “I was honored to have him and his family on my car. We get to do whatever we want, whenever we want, because he paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
The 36-year-old Almirola has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte and garnered one top-five finish, three top-10s and has completed 99.4 percent of all possible laps. He also has two Charlotte starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, which both resulted in top-10 finishes.
Almirola has three top-10s this season and sits 10th in the driver standings with 208 points – 83 behind first-place SHR teammate Kevin Harvick.
After a rollercoaster of difficulties and perseverance Sunday night, Almirola has a simple approach to his second Charlotte race in three days.
“We’ll regroup and get ’em on Wednesday night,” he said. “We did it in Darlington.”
Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Will there be takeaways from the Coke 600 to apply to a race with almost half the laps?
“Yes and no. We’re still racing at night, so that applies, but we won’t see those extremely long runs. The team and I have to take our notes from shorter runs similar to what we’ll see Wednesday night. It will be action-packed, and track position and perfection on pit road will be even more important because there won’t be many laps to catch up.”
What do you do to prepare yourself for four races in 11 days?
“I’ve done a lot of heat training and I stay extremely active on my bike at home. It’s something I have always seen as a boost to my career. I know I’m physically prepared when I get in that car and, at the end of the race, I feel hydrated and ready to go.”
No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
Round 7 of 36 – Alsco Uniforms 500k – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Car No. 10: Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
At Track PR Contact: Dakota Hunter with True Speed Communication (Dakota.Hunter@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
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
Notes of Interest:
● Almirola will make his 15th NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte Wednesday night to bring his total of career Cup Series starts to 324.
o The Smithfield driver is looking to capture his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
Almirola has one career Cup Series top-10 finish at Charlotte, along with one pole award – both earned in 2012.
● Career: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 64 top-10s and 543 laps led in 323 starts.
● The 35-year-old has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte with one top-five finish, three top-10s and a lap-completion rate of 99.4 percent. Almirola also has two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Charlotte, which both resulted in top-10 finishes.
● Points: Almirola sits 10th in the driver standings with 209 points – 83 behind leader Kevin Harvick.
● 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 iRacing, 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.
● 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!