No. 10 Smithfield Ford Racing: Aric Almirola Talladega Advance

Stewart-Haas Racing

●  Aric Almirola has led laps in both superspeedway-style races this year. He led 16 laps in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, as well as 17 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Both are career highs for Almirola at those respective tracks. His day was cut short at both events when he was involved accidents not of his doing.

●  History at Talladega: In 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Almirola has one win, nine top-10 finishes, five top-fives, and has led 107 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series on the 2.66-mile oval, Almirola visited victory lane in May 2017. Statistically speaking, Talladega is the track where he’s shown the most consistency. With his third-place finish in the June 2020 race there, Almirola tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., from April 2001 to October 2004. Despite seeing his streak come to an abrupt end thanks to a multicar accident on lap 57 of the October 2020 race, followed by his 15th-place finish there a year ago this weekend, Almirola’s average finish in his last 10 Talladega outings is 12.9 – second-best among all Cup Series drivers.

●  Almirola earned his season-best finish of sixth last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It was also the first race of the season during which Almirola earned bonus points after both of the opening two stages. He finished ninth to earn two bonus points, and second in Stage 2 to earn another nine bonus points. Combined with the 31 points he earned for his sixth-place finish in the race, Almirola’s 42 total points earned Sunday was fourth-most among the 36 drivers entered.

●  Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Talladega 27th in the driver standings, 159 points out of first.

●  Almirola’s career: In 433 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 92 top-10s, three poles, and has led 1,007 laps.

●  Fans will see the iconic white, black, and gold Smithfield Foods scheme adorn Almirola’s Ford Mustang this weekend. Smithfield has been a sponsor of Almirola’s for the entirety of his fulltime NASCAR Cup Series career – making it one of the longest-lasting partnerships in NASCAR. Smithfield 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.

●  Beyond the 10 YouTube Series:In 2023, Almirola is continuing to share his life beyond the No. 10 Ford with season five 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 the show 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. 

How hard is it to win at Talladega?

“It’s really hard to win at Talladega. It is such a tough place. The opportunity to get involved in a wreck is really high, so you’re constantly trying to battle risk versus reward – how hard you’re going to work to get aggressive and make moves, trying to lead the draft versus playing it safe. It’s a really tough place to win because you can so easily have the fastest racecar and get taken out of the race. However, Talladega is certainly an opportunity race for us. The Fords have been notoriously strong at speedway races and we were really strong at Daytona and Atlanta. I’d expect to be really fast at Talladega, too. That’s an opportunity race for us and I hope we can go out there and capitalize on it.”

What makes Talladega such a spectacle?

“It’s the biggest oval racetrack that we race at and it produces a lot of exciting racing and wrecks, and the fans are hardcore fans, creating a really unique atmosphere. When you show up to Talladega and you see all of the big flags that surround the track and all of the fans camping out in the infield, it’s a spectacle. If you’ve never been to a NASCAR race, or you’ve been to 50 NASCAR races, you know it’s different.”

What is your favorite Talladega memory?

“My favorite memory is winning back in 2018. I was able to win in the playoffs and that catapulted me into the next round and it was just a great feeling. My wife and kids were there with me and I got to share victory lane with them. It was just a really special day.”

Do you enjoy speedway racing?

“I really enjoy speedway racing. I think, of all of the racing we do, there is a level of confidence that you have to have going into it. For me, I always go into those races with a lot of confidence because I’ve won there before. When you have success at places and you feel like you’re good at it, that confidence bleeds over to your success on the track. I feel like every time we go to Talladega or Daytona we have a really good shot at winning, and I know that at some point in the race we’re going to find ourselves up front and, at that point, you just have to execute.”

You’re coming off your best finish of the year. After so much bad luck this year, how good does it feel to finally put it all together and have a clean day?

“It’s nice to be frustrated with a sixth-place finish. We had the speed to contend for a win last weekend and we finally didn’t have terrible luck or mechanical issues. Our short-track program has been good all year so far. We should have had a top-10 or a top-five at both Phoenix and Richmond, too, if it weren’t for bad luck, so it’s great to see the results of a clean day.” 


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