Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield/Hy-Vee Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) make their way to the Midwest for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
After being knocked out of the playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval,” Almirola heads to Kansas with the mindset of focusing on solid running speed and acquiring notes for the 2020 season.
“It’s important that we get as many notes as possible at the remaining tracks this season because, come next year, these are the tracks we’ll need to excel at,” Almirola said. “We’re in a unique position right now because we don’t have to strategize to stay in the playoffs. We can go out and try to find the best speed and the best way to run up front. Hopefully, we can do that and bring it back when it matters most next year.”
Almirola started the beginning of the 2019 season with three consecutive top-10 finishes and a pole at 1.5-mile tracks. Now, he looks ahead to getting back to the speed he and the team found early in the year.
Last weekend at Talladega, Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Racin’ for Bacon Ford team made a great run by avoiding multiple accidents and bringing home their second top-five of the season.
“Man, it was nice to get a fourth-place finish at Talladega and having a shot at a win,” he said. “It’s been a while since we have been in contention to win. I’m not sure what move I could have made there at the end to win without wrecking, but we brought it home clean and we have momentum heading to Kansas, now. We were so close to giving away a million slices of bacon with Smithfield. Hopefully we’ll get a shot at that again.”
After 31 races this season, Almirola has one pole, two top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and has led 118 laps. That adds to a career total of two wins, two poles, 17 top-five finishes, 60 top-10s and 475 laps led in 310 starts.
Kansas City is an important market for Smithfield, whose Fresh division is based approximately 20 miles from the racetrack. Fittingly, Almirola’s diet consists of Smithfield’s premium line of all-natural fresh pork, which is packed with protein to keep him in the best physical condition possible for race weekends, including Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.
In addition to Smithfield’s support on the No. 10 car, Hy-Vee, with sales of $10 billion annually and ranking among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States, will showcase its red-and-white imagery on the rear quarterpanels of the No. 10 Ford Mustang. Its more than 245 stores are located in eight Midwestern states: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Distribution centers are in the Iowa cities of Chariton and Cherokee with a third perishable operation in Ankeny. Hy-Vee’s corporate office is located in West Des Moines.
Almirola has 15 career starts at Kansas and has earned six top-10 finishes there. Additionally, he’s led 69 laps at the 1.5-mile oval – the second-most laps he’s led at a single venue. He also has three starts there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a best finish of 12th in October 2011, and two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, with a best finish of seventh in May 2010. SHR has three wins at Kansas – Tony Stewart in October 2009 and Kevin Harvick in October 2016 and May 2018 – to go with 11 top-fives and 21 top-10s in 58 starts. Ford has earned eight Cup Series wins at Kansas.
As the season winds down, fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes 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. Tune in this weekend for full access to Almirola’s playoff media day, NASCAR Burnout Boulevard and the Vegas race weekend. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.
Sunday’s 400-mile race at Kansas marks the 28th points-paying event during which the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang this year. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, based 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.
ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield/Hy-Vee Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
It’s been two years since your accident at Kansas. How does it feel to go back again?
“I’m looking forward to going back to Kansas. I’ve had two recent top-10s there, so that was kind of sweet revenge of going back to that track and having a good run and kind of putting the accident behind me. That was just an unfortunate event that took place. The circumstances just happened perfectly and I was in a crash and broke my back, but I can’t think about that and worry about that. I’m looking forward to going to Kansas and putting ourselves in position to go win.”
What do you like about Kansas?
“I love going to Kansas. I’ve got friends who live there and it’s just a really nice area all around the racetrack. There are lots of things to do. As the new pavement has aged and worn out, we’ve really been moving all around the racetrack and it’s really put on some great races.”