● Aric Almirola calls Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway his favorite track on the NASCAR circuit. Dover is the home of Almirola’s first NASCAR national series win, the September 2008 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, driving for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (DEI). Almirola started eighth and led 27 laps before taking the checkered flag – catapulting his career to the next level. Just two years later, he found himself in Dover’s victory lane again – this time in the May 2010 NASCAR Truck Series. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the 39-year-old veteran has four starts at Dover, all resulting in finishes inside the top-15 with a best of ninth.
● In Almirola’s previous 18 Cup Series starts at Dover, he has two top-five finishes, four top-10s, and he’s led 86 laps. He and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team have come oh so close to hoisting the trophy at Dover in the Cup Series. In the fall 2018 race there, he started 11th and gradually made his way into the lead by the final stage. He led a total of 64 laps before a late caution, but contact with the wall while racing aggressively in the closing laps ruined his victory bid and left him with a 13th-place finish. It was the first time the Tampa, Florida, native led laps in the Cup Series on the concrete mile oval.
● In three races this season with the NextGen car’s new short-track aero package, Almirola and Stewart-Haas Racing have shown consistent speed. On the mile oval at Phoenix Raceway last month, he started from the rear of the field and drove to 13th before a wheel broke off his racecar, sending him to the pits and putting him multiple laps down. On the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond (Va.) Raceway April 2, he drove from 32nd into the top-10 during the final stage before finishing 13th. Almirola drove to his best finish of the season of sixth two weekends ago at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where he consistently ran inside the top-three.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Dover 24th in the driver standings, 163 points out of first.
● Almirola’s career: In 434 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 92 top-10s, four poles, and has led 1,018 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 do you assess your short-track program as you head to the concrete mile oval at Dover Motor Speedway?
“We’ve had speed at all the short tracks this year. You look at Phoenix and Kevin (Harvick) arguably had the fastest car that day and had a shot to win. You look at Richmond and our cars are really strong. I had to come from deep in the field there. Then you look at Martinsville and all of our cars qualified in the top 10 spots and ran up front all day. At any point, it looked like one of our cars was capable of winning the race. Really happy and really encouraged with what we have going on with our short-track program. We’ve got to figure it out for the mile-and-a-half tracks, so that has to improve, but I was really happy with where our program was leaving Martinsville.”
Is track position becoming more and more important with this NextGen car?
“Yeah, that’s the way racing has gone in the last several years. It has become very track-position dependent. The teams are getting so good at making racecars handle and making speed and, with this new racecar, we’re all so close and the margin of error is so thin. The fact that we all run a tenth or two of each other just makes it naturally hard to pass. You go back and look at years ago, there was a bigger discrepancy of speed, and when you have those bigger discrepancies of speed, you have more passing.”
Do you enjoy going to Dover?
“I love Dover. It’s the home of my first NASCAR national series win in the East Series, and then I went back there and won in a truck, and I’ve always run really well there in the Xfinity and Cup Series, so I really enjoy going to Dover. A racecar driver is always fond of a place they’re successful at, so having success at Dover is a big part of why I love to go there, and then the racetrack is just a very unique track. It’s the only track we go to where the sensation of speed is really high. A lot of the tracks we go to, we know we’re going fast but it doesn’t feel that fast when you get adapted to it. But at Dover, you really feel like you’re riding a rollercoaster and you get that sensation of speed.”