Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is set to compete for a win at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth this weekend.
Almirola had an unusual start to the spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race there earlier this year when a stomach bug kept him up the night before. On race-day morning, he battled weakness and consumed a substantial amount of fluids. When the green flag waved, he was ready to go. The No. 10 Ford advanced to the top-four in the final stage and even led three laps before finishing seventh to earn his sixth consecutive top-10 of the season.
“I didn’t sleep at all that night with a stomach bug,” Almirola said. “I was worn out. We don’t get to call in sick. That’s the challenging part of our job, occasionally. The flu or a cold or a stomach bug pops up and you’ve got to fight through it. We had a good car and we still got out of there with a top-10, which was our sixth in a row at the time. I was just happy to come home with a good finish after all of that.”
In 17 career Cup Series starts at Texas, the 35-year-old Almirola has three top-10 finishes and has led three laps. His three starts at Texas with SHR have resulted in two top-10 finishes.
In addition to his Cup Series experience at Texas, Almirola has four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, all top-20 finishes, and five laps led. He’s also made nine NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts at Texas with two top-10s and 14 laps led.
After 33 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 313 starts.
Last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Almirola started on the front row and piloted the Smithfield Ford in and around the top-five until an incident on lap 360 ended his day.
“I really wanted that clock,” he said, referring to the traditional Martinsville grandfather clock trophy. “That was the first time in a while we had a legitimate shot to win it. I don’t know if we could have competed with the No. 78 (Martin Truex), but the guys brought me a rocket. At least we know we can bring a good car to Martinsville, which will definitely come into play next year if we can race to the final round of the playoffs.”
Texas is the 30th event during which the 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 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.
As the season comes to a close, Almirola sits 14th in the standings with 2,159 points, two behind 13th-place Kurt Busch.
ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is the most difficult thing to get right or figure out at Texas Motor Speedway?
“I think the most difficult thing at Texas is that it’s repaved and they changed the banking in turns one and two, and it’s just the speed you carry through the banked corner of turns three and four, and then you have to get slowed down for the flat turns one and two. That has made it very challenging. Then, the exit of turn two is very flat, so you’re carrying some speed there and the car just doesn’t have a lot of grip because there isn’t any banking.”
Why is it important to run well at Texas?
“Well it’s important to run well everywhere, but Texas is a big one because it comes early in the season and late. You have the chance to lock into the playoffs early and, when you come back in the playoffs, you’re confident that you have a good shot to advance to the championship race. It’s a good feeling when you get that kind of confidence.”