Almirola: Richmond Is An Awesome Track

Aric Almirola

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Hometown Original Heroes Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the NASCAR Cup Series, heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 holding down the 12th spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings.

Almirola finished ninth in Sunday night’s playoff opener at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway to earn his second consecutive top-10 at the egg-shaped oval. It was a rollercoaster of a race for Almirola, who fell outside the top-20 before rallying back to a top-10 by the end of the race.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we rallied back to have a decent finish that keeps us in contention to advance to the next round,” said Almirola, who’s tied for the all-important 12th-place cutoff spot with SHR teammate Clint Bowyer with two races to go in the Round of 16. “It’s no different than racing at Vegas last year, where we had a seventh- to 10th-place car. We didn’t get the stage points we needed to build a cushion, but to leave Darlington with a ninth-place finish after the day we had was what we needed heading to Richmond.”

Almirola needs to remain in the top-12 in points to advance to the Round of 12 for the third consecutive season with SHR, which makes running well Saturday night at Richmond and the following Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway that much more important.

The Smithfield Ford driver was in the exact same playoff points position last year heading to Richmond – 12th place with 2,033 points. He went on to advance to the round of 12.

Almirola has one top-five at Richmond since joining SHR, but that doesn’t mean he looks at the .75-mile short track as a weak point in his quest to reach the Round of 12.

“I really enjoy Richmond,” he said. “It’s a tough track, but it’s in Smithfield’s backyard and would mean the world to lock ourselves in to the next round there.”

The No. 10 Ford driver enjoyed a career-best regular season with five top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and 286 laps led. In his last 16 races, he has 12 top-10s and all five of his top-fives.

SHR teammate and regular-season points champion Kevin Harvick won Sunday night’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington to secure his position in the next playoff round while SHR’s Cole Custer is just three points behind Almirola and the 12th-place cutoff line.

Almirola and his longtime partner Smithfield Foods have collaborated to honor frontline hometown heroes by showcasing a special paint scheme on the No. 10 Ford this weekend. Smithfield looks to honor those who are putting their own health and safety at risk in a selfless act to protect and nourish others around them. The Smithfield “Hometown Original Heroes” program provides the opportunity for fans to share the stories of their own “Hometown Hero.” Be it a nurse, doctor, food worker, public servant or anyone who is on the frontlines each and every day, Smithfield and Almirola want to hear their stories and give.

To nominate a hometown hero, visit www.SmithfieldHometownHeroes.com and submit a one-minute video nominating the “Hometown Hero.” Ten heroes will be chosen to have their stories told and will have their names riding onboard the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang at a race during the NASCAR playoffs this fall. The heroes will also receive a VIP race day experience and full-year supply of Smithfield “Hometown Original” bacon.

Almirola looks to become Smithfield’s “Hometown Original Hero” this weekend by parking the black, white and gold Smithfield Ford in victory lane with a ticket punched to the Round of 12 for the third year in a row.

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

Most drivers are saying you’re the dark horse in the 2020 playoffs. How do you feel about that?

“I don’t really care what everyone else says. I don’t focus on that at all. We’ve been in contention all year and that’s what we plan to continue at Richmond.”

How do you study your playoff rounds, one at a time or all together as a collective round?

“I’m focused on racing for a win at Richmond and that’s all I have my mind on. It’s one race at a time. I couldn’t even tell you what tracks come next. As soon as the checkered flag waved at Darlington, it’s all about Richmond.”

What kind of challenge does a short track like Richmond bring?

“I would say Richmond is one of the most challenging racetracks we go to for managing your tires throughout the run. The first 10, 15 or 20 laps of the run can make you feel like Superman roaring through the field, but you will pay a major penalty for that by lap 40. It makes it fun because, when we show up to Richmond, it really is about managing tire fall-off and making sure your car stays consistent throughout the run as the tires fall off.”

What’s it like to race at Richmond?

“Richmond is an awesome track to race at. It’s Saturday-night racing at its finest. Beating and banging, and the track has very little grip and the tires wear out, so it’s a really fun racetrack. You can see the sparks flying, and having the glow of the brake rotors and everything lit up is neat. It’s also pretty close to Smithfield, Virginia, so it’s a hometown race for Smithfield. It’s just a lot of fun to go there and race.”

No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Team Report

Round 28 of 36 – Federated Auto Parts 400 – Richmond

Car No. 10: Smithfield Hometown Original Ford Mustang Team Report

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, North Carolina

Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Coffey

Hometown: Granite Falls, NC

Jackman: Corbin Martin

Hometown: Winston Salem, North Carolina

Notes of Interest:

Aric Almirola will make his 344th career NASCAR Cup Series start and his 17th at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

● In the Tampa native’s 16 previous starts at Richmond, he has two top-five finishes.

● This marks the third year in a row since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) that Almirola has made the NASCAR playoffs. It will be his fourth playoff appearance in his nine-year full-time career. His best playoff run was in 2018, when he finished fifth in the season standings.

Career: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 23 top-five finishes, 76 top-10s and 824 laps led in 343 starts.

Playoff Standings: After finishing ninth in Sunday night’s playoff opener at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Almirola is 12th in the playoff standings with 2,033 points and tied with teammate Clint Bowyer.

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.

● Almirola and his longtime partner Smithfield Foods have collaborated to honor frontline hometown heroes by showcasing a special paint scheme on the No. 10 Ford this weekend. Smithfield looks to honor those who are putting their own health and safety at risk in a selfless act to protect and nourish others around them. The Smithfield “Hometown Original Heroes” program provides the opportunity for fans to share the stories of their own “Hometown Hero.” Be it a nurse, doctor, food worker, public servant or anyone who is on the frontlines each and every day, Smithfield and Almirola want to hear their stories and give.

● To nominate a hometown hero, visit www.SmithfieldHometownHeroes.com and submit a one-minute video nominating the “Hometown Hero.” Ten heroes will be chosen to have their stories told and will have their names riding onboard the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang at a race during the NASCAR playoffs this fall. The heroes will also receive a VIP race day experience and full-year supply of Smithfield “Hometown Original” bacon.

● 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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