● Las Vegas: In 18 starts at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile desert oval, Almirola has earned four top-10s, all coming since he joined SHR in 2018. Almirola finished sixth in his most recent start March 6. It was the No. 10 team’s third-straight top-10 finish to start the season and fifth in a row dating back to last year’s penultimate race Oct. 31 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
● 2022 Season: Through 32 races, 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 17.7 and seven top-10s this season have bettered his totals for all 36 points-paying races in 2021.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Talladega 20th in the driver standings with 685 points.
● Almirola’s career: In 420 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has earned three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 91 top-10s, four poles, and has led 974 laps.
● Smithfield Foods is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 63,000 team members are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly.®” Smithfield is one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. The company has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including its industry-leading commitments to become carbon negative in U.S. company-owned operations and reduce GHG emissions 30 percent across its entire U.S. value chain by 2030. Smithfield believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to local communities. 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.
● 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. Almirola’s top-10 streak ended with a 12th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway despite running inside the top-10 throughout the race.
Are you looking forward to Las Vegas after a solid sixth-place finish there in March?
“Yeah, we had a really good car at Vegas to start the year. I’m really looking forward to getting back there to see where we have progressed throughout the year. The next few races on the schedule are exciting for us. I think we’ll have a really good shot at running up front at all of them. I have always liked Vegas, but it’s such a challenging track to set up for. Knowing we had a good start to the season fills you with a lot of confidence going into the weekend.”
You’re at a point in your career where a lot of younger drivers are looking to you for advice on and off the track. What does that mean to you?
“It’s really neat for me to see the younger generation coming up. Cole (Custer), Chase (Briscoe), and Riley (Herbst) – those guys are so young. I remember when I was the young guy. I remember when I was that age and I remember the way I was treated by Tony Stewart at Gibbs and Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin. The way that they treated me, the amount of respect I had for them, and the leadership that they gave me was so crucial and so beneficial to me personally and professionally to get me to where I’m at today. I enjoy having the ability to be able to help these guys when they ask and when they are involved in team meetings and competition debriefs. I enjoy that aspect of seeing them kind of grow and mature in the sport and personally, too. You look at Chase, who is a newer father. I’m 10 years down the road on that. I’ve got a little bit of a head start so I can shed some light on that and what that looks like being a new parent trying to chase your dreams and career and all of those things.”