Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Valley Tech Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will attempt to beat another personal record he set in 2018 when he earned his first top-10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta after five starts at the 1.5-mile oval, site of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kentucky 400.
“Last year was an incredible year for Stewart-Haas as a team and a great year for me, personally,” Almirola said. “We brought a lot of speed to the track each weekend and contended for top-fives, top-10s and even wins all year, which was new for me. We started this season strong at intermediate tracks and we’re all just trying to get back to where we were. I’m looking forward to improving our 1.5-mile program this weekend at Kentucky.”
Almirola has scored three top-10 finishes and two top-15s at 1.5-mile tracks so far this season. In addition his eighth-place finish in last year’s Cup Series race at Kentucky, he earned a sixth-place finish there in the June 2011 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
For the second consecutive weekend, the Cup Series has a main event under the Saturday-night lights, which are not only overwhelming fan favorites who enjoy seeing racecars leave a trail of sparks as they navigate the track, but a challenge for teams in dealing with constant handling changes on the racecars as temperatures cool as the night wears on. In Sunday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Almirola drove the No. 10 Ford to a seventh-place finish after severe weather ended the race prematurely on lap 127 of a scheduled 160 laps. His seventh-place finish advanced him one position in the championship standings.
Valley Tech joins SHR for the second of two races this season in hopes of riding Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang to victory lane this weekend. Valley Tech Learning partners with companies, educational institutions, and municipalities to provide always-on, on-demand interactive instruction for the most in-demand technical skills for today’s marketplace. Through a unique, highly accessible platform designed to more effectively upskill current employees and future workforce members, Valley Tech enables communities to become more competitive and serve all who aspire to learn and succeed in today’s knowledge economy.
Almirola has always valued the importance of an education, even as he worked his way toward the pinnacle of North American motorsports. While he rose through the racing ranks from the World Karting Association to open-wheel Modifieds to Late Model stock cars, he attended the University of Central Florida, where he pursued a degree in mechanical engineering. But after two years in college, Almirola earned an opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing that ultimately led him to the NASCAR Cup Series.
“My parents and grandparents instilled in me the value of an education,” he said. “In order to go racing, I had to perform in school, and that included college. I continue to use what I learned in high school and at UCF to this day. Racing is a detail industry where knowledge is power. I can’t thank all of my teachers and professors enough. Between them and my family, they gave me the tools to succeed.”
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 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, 10 top-10s and has led 100 laps through 18 races this season. His qualifying efforts have also been strong with five front-row starts and eight top-five starts this season.
ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Valley Tech Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How much different is a night race versus a day race?
“You know to plan for it. You know your car isn’t going to be perfect. If it’s perfect when you start the race, you better be prepared to make major changes as the sun goes down. The track is going to change so much. It’s important for me to provide constructive feedback on how the car is handling so that the crew can make the right adjustments. So much can change from day to night, it’s important to have patience.”