Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) looks ahead to a 1.5-mile track that hosted his most laps led in a single race and his first stage win of his career.
Almirola raced the No. 10 Ford from sixth to the lead by lap 40 in the first stage at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. He started Stage 2 from third and regained the lead until he reported a vibration and was forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop putting him a lap down and in 25th when the checkered flag waved.
Although Almirola only has one top-10 at Chicagoland, the speed his SHR team found in 2018 is nothing to blink an eye at. This season, Almirola has scored four top-10s out of six races at 1.5-mile tracks and led 46 total laps.
“At about this time last year we really started to find speed and mesh as a team,” said Almirola. “Johnny and the Smithfield team were able to bring me a really fast Ford and we ran up front for a while and earned some stage points. I’m going into the weekend with no expectation like I do every weekend, but it feels good knowing we had success here last year. I have confidence that we’re going to kick it in full gear before and during the playoffs and be serious competitors for the championship.”
Sonoma marks the 14th weekend the iconic black-and-white Smithfield livery will adorn Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.
Fans can now get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel and following episodes on Facebook. Episodes will showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, 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.
The 35-year-old Ford driver has earned one pole award, one top-five, nine top-10s and has led 100 laps through 15 races this season. His qualifying efforts have also been strong with five front-row starts and eight top-five starts this season.
Almirola sits 11th in the driver standings with 460 points, 183 behind leader and fellow Ford driver Joey Logano.
ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Who inspired you to race?
“I grew up watching my grandfather race dirt cars all over the Southeast and he was really talented. I fell in love with watching him race. He retired when I was 8 years old and asked me if I wanted to try my hand at racing. I did, so he bought me a go-kart and away we went. I started racing in Florida and, after the first year, we started traveling all over the East Coast racing in the World Karting Association. I raced on dirt ovals and I just loved it. From go-kart racing, I moved up to stock cars and Late Models and had some success in every rank that I competed at. It eventually led me to moving to North Carolina and I started driving a Late Model stock car for Joe Gibbs Racing. I kind of got my foot in the door with major teams in NASCAR and was able to bounce around for a few years until I found a home at Richard Petty Motorsports to drive in the Cup Series. That opportunity parlayed into the opportunity that I have now at Stewart-Haas Racing.”