Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 NASCAR Cup Series race. It’ll be the fourth event on a 1.5-mile track in 10 events this season.
Almirola and the No. 10 team earned their first pole award together last year at Atlanta. On race day, he led 36 laps and finished eighth. It was his second top-10 finish at Atlanta. Almirola’s new crew chief this season, Mike Bugarewicz, had consecutive top-five finishes at Atlanta with SHR driver Clint Bowyer – third in 2018 and fifth in 2019.
Between last year’s pole and Bugarewicz’s recent success at Atlanta, the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team is expecting significant speed and results this weekend.
“We have shown such great speed almost every weekend since we’ve returned to racing, but nothing has gone our way,” Almirola said. “I think I saw a fan even tweet me that, every time I have the opportunity to start on the preferred lane, a car in front of me gets a penalty and puts me in the other lane. We’ve had loose wheels, been caught up in wrecks, started in the rear at Charlotte and even ran over a piece of metal on the pace laps. You can’t find much more bad luck than that. If we just had a few more things go our way, we would be contending for top-five finishes each weekend. Sometimes it’s out of our hands, but I know it’s going to come back around soon.”
Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 64 top-10s and 543 laps led in 325 starts. His last win came in October 2018 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Almirola has collected three top-10 finishes in the first nine races this season.
His No. 10 Ford will sport the iconic black, white and gold of partner Smithfield at Atlanta. Smithfield Foods Inc., which is sponsoring Almirola’s car 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.
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 here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.
Almirola is scored 11th in the season standings with 240 points – 130 behind leader and SHR teammate Kevin Harvick. He is in the same points position through nine races as he was after the first nine races of 2018 and 2019. He finished fifth in the championship standings in 2018.
“I know we’re going to bring speed,” Almirola said. “I just hope we can put it all together one time and show everyone what we’re made of this year.”
Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You earned the pole at Atlanta last year and led some laps. Are you confident heading there?
“We’re definitely confident heading to Atlanta between me and Buga’s success there. You just never know without practice. We got a pole there last year and ran really well, so there’s nothing but positivity from me. A few more solid runs and we’ll know we’re in it this season as serious competitors.”
What’s it like racing at Atlanta?
“Drivers love to race at tracks that are old and worn out because it gives us options. It seems like the times we go to repaves, it gets very narrow and we can only run right in a single groove. When we go to Atlanta, it’s got a lot of character. It’s rough. It’s bouncy. It’s worn out and you slip and slide. We like having that control of cars sliding around and driving it. We really enjoy tracks like Atlanta.”
No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report
Round 10 of 36 – Folds of Honor 500 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
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
Notes of Interest:
● Almirola will make his 10th NASCAR Cup Series start at Atlanta this weekend to bring his total of career Cup Series starts to 326.
o The Smithfield driver is looking to capture his third top-10 finish of the season. o Almirola has earned two top-10s at Atlanta, including last year’s eighth-place finish from the pole.
● In addition to his nine Cup Series starts at Atlanta, Almirola has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts and four NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts.
o Almirola’s Xfinity Series statistics at Atlanta feature one top-10 with 99.5 percent of all possible laps completed. The Tampa, Florida native has two top-five finishes and two top-10s there in the Truck Series. o Atlanta is the fourth intermediate race of the 2020 season for Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team.
● Career: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 64 top-10s and 543 laps led in 325 starts.
● Points: Almirola sits 11th in the driver standings with 240 points – 130 behind leader and SHR teammate Kevin Harvick.
● Last win: Almirola’s Oct. 14, 2018 win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway 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!