Stewart-Haas Racing Adds Aric Almirola to Driver Lineup

Almirola Will Pilot No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion Beginning in 2018

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Nov. 8, 2017) – Stewart-Haas Racing has signed Aric Almirola to join its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lineup in 2018. The 33-year-old from Tampa, Florida, will drive the team’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion.

Almirola has won races in each of NASCAR’s top-three national touring series and is currently in his sixth full season in the premier NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola has one NASCAR Cup Series victory, three NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series triumphs.

“I’ve known Aric since 2004 and have always been impressed with him on the racetrack,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas. “I’ve raced with him and seen him mature into a really good racecar driver. He can compete for wins here at Stewart-Haas Racing and help our other drivers compete for wins. He’s an excellent fit for this team and for Smithfield.”

“This is the opportunity every racer wants,” Almirola said. “Stewart-Haas Racing is an experienced organization with a lot of depth, great technical support from Ford, and staffed with racers from top to bottom. They lean on each other, challenge each other and make each other better. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.

“I’ve known Tony Stewart since our time together at Joe Gibbs Racing. I know what he expects and he knows my commitment. I can’t thank him and Smithfield enough for believing in me and providing this opportunity.”

“This is a great moment for Aric, and Smithfield is very happy to be a part of it because it’s a great opportunity for our company,” said John Pauley, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Smithfield. “Obviously, we strongly believe in Aric’s ability and that of Stewart-Haas Racing, and those abilities transcend the racetrack. They want to consistently run up front and contend for wins, but they’re also very interested in helping us win in the marketplace. This is a strong partnership with outgoing personalities who are driven to succeed.”

Almirola’s path to NASCAR started in his home state of Florida, beginning in karting in 1992 before advancing to open-wheel modifieds in 2000 and then late-model stock cars in 2002. In late 2003 at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Almirola participated in a driver combine for Joe Gibbs Racing and was ultimately selected as one of the first two drivers for Gibbs’ diversity program, which launched in 2004. Almirola became a teammate of Stewart’s, who was in his sixth year as a NASCAR Cup Series driver and only two years removed from the first of his three NASCAR Cup Series championships.

Nine wins and 11 poles during the 2004-2005 seasons of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series allowed Almirola to advance from local short tracks in the southeast to a fulltime, national schedule in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. A handful of Xfinity Series starts also came in 2006, and Almirola’s NASCAR Cup Series debut took place on March 11, 2007 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, three days shy of his 23rd birthday.

About Smithfield Foods:

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan’s Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, John Morrell®, Cook’s®, Kretschmar®, Gwaltney®, Curly’s®, Margherita®, Carando®, Healthy Ones®, Krakus®, Morliny® and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.

About Stewart-Haas Racing:

Stewart-Haas Racing is the title-winning NASCAR team co-owned by three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. The organization fields four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Danica Patrick, the No. 14 Ford Fusion for Clint Bowyer and the No. 41 Ford Fusion for Kurt Busch. The team also competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series by fielding a full time entry – the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Cole Custer – and one part-time entry – the No. 41 Ford Mustang. Based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stewart-Haas Racing operates out of a 200,000-square-foot facility with nearly 370 employees. For more information, please visit us on the Web at  www.StewartHaasRacing.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StewartHaasRacing, on Twitter @StewartHaasRcng and on Instagram @StewartHaasRacing.

-SHR-

Contact Mike Arning with True Speed Communication on behalf of Stewart-Haas Racing

(704) 875-3388, ext. 802 or [email protected]

Smithfield Foods Joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018

KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (Sept. 12, 2017) – Smithfield Foods Inc., a global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer, announced earlier today it will join Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as a primary team sponsor beginning in 2018. Details of the agreement, including the driver who will be added to SHR’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lineup in 2018, will be provided at a later date.

“We’re very proud to have Smithfield Foods join the Stewart-Haas Racing family,” said Brett Frood, president, SHR. “Smithfield has activated heavily and successfully within the sport, and we’re honored to be a part of the brand’s forward initiatives and strategy. Although we’re not ready to announce the full details of the program, we look forward to this new endeavor while remaining focused on the upcoming playoffs and putting forth the best effort possible to win more races and contend for another championship.”

About Stewart-Haas Racing:

Stewart-Haas Racing is the title-winning NASCAR team co-owned by three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. The organization fields four entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Danica Patrick, the No. 14 Ford Fusion for Clint Bowyer and the No. 41 Ford Fusion for Kurt Busch. The team also competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series by fielding a full time entry – the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Cole Custer – and one part-time entry – the No. 41 Ford Mustang. Based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stewart-Haas Racing operates out of a 200,000-square-foot facility with more than 300 employees. For more information, please visit us on the Web at  www.StewartHaasRacing.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StewartHaasRacing, on Twitter @StewartHaasRcng and on Instagram @StewartHaasRacing.

Contact Mike Arning with True Speed Communication on behalf of Stewart-Haas Racing

(704) 875-3388, ext. 802 or [email protected]

Q&A with Rodney Childers, crew chief No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion

HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED AT HOW QUICKLY YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO MAKE THIS CHANGEOVER TO FORD AND BE SO COMPETITIVE RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE?  “I think we all expected to do well.  We worked really hard over the winter and all of our preparation has been really good, but the biggest thing is just keeping that going over time and our group has done a good job of that the last three years, but we just have to keep it up.  Hopefully, we can keep doing that as the year progresses.”

YOU DID THE ORGANIZATIONAL TEST AT PHOENIX.  WHAT DID YOU THINK GOING IN AND THEN COMING OUT OF THAT TEST?  “Going into it I thought we’d be competitive from his standpoint.  We’ve had a good setup there that last three years, but the test didn’t start out the way we wanted it to.  We struggled the first day and really about half the second day, and then we got going really good at the end of the second day.  We learned a lot out there and look forward to going back and, hopefully, have another shot at the victory out there.”

FROM A CREW CHIEF PERSPECTIVE WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO WELL AT PHOENIX TO BE FAST?  “The biggest thing is just having a car that turns really good.  That’s where we seem to excel is getting through three and four and rolling through the center of the corner the best.  Normally if you can do that, you can kind of get off the corner when there are problems.  That’s what we struggled with out there at the test and just trying to keep the back of the car under him, but have the front end of the car turn.  Like I said, I think we got it a lot better toward the end of the test and, hopefully, we can be even better when we go back.”

WHAT DOES KEVIN LIKE TO SEE IN THE CAR THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM SOME OTHER GUYS YOU’VE WORKED WITH?  “The biggest thing with Kevin is he just understands what it’s supposed to feel like.  We got pretty fortunate when I started the 4 team and we unloaded in 2014 and we were fast off the truck, and we really haven’t had to change a lot since then.  As a group we’ve done a really good job and he gives us the feedback that we need to make the car better during the weekend and all of that has just kind of worked out over the last few years.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT STAGE RACING?  ARE YOU PULLING YOUR HAIR OUT OR JUST WORRYING ABOUT BEING FAST?  “We don’t worry about that side of it.  We’ve done the same thing over the years.  We just try to be as fast as we can and lead as many laps as we can and that has paid off for us in the past.  Hopefully, we can keep that up as the year goes on.”

HAS THE BIGGEST ISSUE DURING THIS TRANSITION BEEN FINDING THE PROPER BALANCE FOR THE FUSION?  “Yeah, I think so.  It definitely feels like the Ford body has more front bias, balance than what we were used to and that’s just something you’ve got to figure out with a few tests and racing it a little bit.  It’s just a change.  It’s not something that’s gonna hurt one way or another, you just have to adapt to it like we adapt to changing tires each week.  Overall, it’s been good and we really haven’t had any issues with it.”

HAS IT HELPED SPEED UP YOUR LEARNING BY BEING ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PHOENIX TEST?  “I don’t know.  I think the guys that didn’t make any changes over the winter are probably in the best shape.  Even though we were fast in Atlanta, I still don’t feel like we’re where we need to be.  We’ve got a lot of things that we’re just getting going and it seems like every body on every car is different right now, just because we’re searching of what’s right and what’s wrong, so, overall, we’re just trying to figure everything out.”