● Almirola has 33 points-paying road-course starts in the NASCAR Cup Series with two top-10 finishes, both coming at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in consecutive appearances – eighth in June 2018 and ninth in June 2019. His average finish of 18.3 in four outings on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval is his best among the road-course races currently on the Cup Series schedule. His best Roval finish of 14th came in October 2019.
● 2022 Season: Through 31 races this season, Almirola has earned two top-five finishes, seven top-10s, and has led 81 laps. He also qualified on the pole for the first time this season at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in September. His average finish of 17.8 and seven top-10s this season have bettered his totals for the entire 36-race 2021 season.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Talladega 20th in the driver standings with 663 points.
● Almirola’s career: In 419 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has earned three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 91 top-10s, four poles, and has led 974 laps.
● Haas Automation, founded by Gene Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
● Back for More: Earlier this year, Almirola announced that he would step down from fulltime racing following the 2022 season.Through the course of the year, Almirola has discovered a new balance between his passion for racing and dedication to his family. His wife Janice, and kids Alex and Abby, join him on most race weekends, oftentimes enjoying once-in-a-lifetime experiences together as they travel the country. His rapport with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer has flourished, and the intense pressure he had put on himself was replaced with the joy of simply being present. Not only did Almirola see a new perspective on the sport, but so did anchor partner Smithfield Foods, who broached the subject of Almirola returning to fulltime racing in 2023. On Aug. 26, Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Smithfield Foods announced his return with a multi-year agreement and the largest allotment of races since joining the team in 2018.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2022, Almirola is once again sharing his life beyond the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with season three of his award-winning YouTube series. Fans and media can subscribe on YouTube to see Almirola’s personality on and off the track. Episodes have already featured life as a dad, a husband and an athlete, and it gives fans a unique perspective on what goes on in the life of a professional NASCAR driver. Fans can also follow Almirola’s social media channels: @Aric_Almirola on Twitter and Instagram, and @AricAlmirola on Facebook.
● Almirola was the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to finish in the top-10 in this year’s opening three races. He finished fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, sixth at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Almirola’s top-10 streak ended with a 12th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway despite running inside the top-10 throughout the race.
What is the goal this weekend on the Charlotte Roval?
“Progress is what we’re really looking for – progress with the car on road courses and progress with my own performance. I spent a lot of time in the Ford simulator this week logging laps on the Roval to get familiar with the track again. We’ve had some good road-course days this year and some bad ones. With the Roval, you have to have a mix of both speed and handling.
You have recently been coaching your son Alex’s baseball team. How has that been?
“It is an absolute blast. Seeing these boys learn and grow through the sport of baseball is so rewarding, and Alex has really enjoyed it. He has been to a few different MLB games this year and is a huge fan. He’s at that age where the things I find fun are the same things he finds fun and we can do them together.”
Do you have any more expectations for this season?
“Just finding little wins each weekend is important. I think we still have a shot at a race win this season, as well, but ultimately, progress in some way each weekend is a win. We raced well at Vegas, Martinsville, and Phoenix earlier this year, so we’re excited to go back to those venues and see where we can improve.”