Primed for a Good Weekend in Kansas
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 9, 2018) – Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) make their way to the Midwest for this Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The four-car SHR operation heads into the weekend with more momentum than ever after a historic finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. For the first time ever, three of the SHR entries finished in the top-five with Almirola rounding out the four-car contingent in 11th place.
Almirola heads to Kansas looking for redemption after he was involved in an accident in last year’s May race that caused him to sit out the next seven Cup Series races last season with an injury. The 34-year-old is more focused than ever as the injury spurred Almirola to work harder on his physical fitness, which he’s maintained through this season. He is often seen cycling on the race weekends.
Kansas City is also a large market for Smithfield, with its Fresh division based approximately 20 miles from the racetrack. Almirola’s Smithfield Ford Fusion will have a different look this weekend with Smithfield’s Prime Fresh Pork collection being displayed on the No. 10 machine. Fittingly, there’s no better time than this weekend to purchase Smithfield’s premium line of all-natural fresh pork with Mother’s Day falling on Sunday. Almirola heads to Kansas Thursday morning to visit with the employees at Smithfield’s Kansas City office and to unveil this weekend’s Prime Fresh Pork paint scheme.
The Tampa native has 12 starts at Kansas and has earned four top-10 finishes there. Additionally, he’s led 69 laps at the 1.5-mile oval – the most laps he’s led at a single venue. Almirola finished ninth in his last start at Kansas and has an average starting position of 16.8. He has three starts there in the Xfinity Series with a best finish of 12th in October 2011, and two starts in the Camping World Truck Series with a best finish of seventh in May 2010. SHR has two wins at Kansas – Tony Stewart in October 2009 and Kevin Harvick in October 2016 – to go with 10 top-fives and 17 top-10s.
Fans can now enter for their chance to win Smithfield’s Smoke Machine Mustang designed by team co-owner Stewart with the help of drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. They helped create a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. Fans can register for their chance to win the suped-up Mustang and a trip to November’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway by visiting SmithfieldRacing.com, or by texting SMOKE to 82257.
Fans also continue to have the opportunity to enter Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” contest that Almirola and five-time world-champion barbecue pitmaster Tuffy Stone helped launch last week to kick off the summer grilling season. Almirola and Stone launched Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” campaign, in which fans are encouraged to nominate their favorite grill hero by visiting SmithfieldGetGrilling.com. One “Hero of the Grill” nominee will win $5,000. Plus, the first 10,000 nominees will have the chance to see their name featured on Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September.
Kansas marks the 10th weekend the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first 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.
Last weekend at Dover, Harvick netted Ford’s sixth win this season, most among all manufacturers. Five of the six wins have been earned by SHR drivers – Harvick has four wins and Bowyer one. Additionally, Fords have led 2,147 laps so far this year, which is twice as many as any other manufacturer.
Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Prime Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
It’s been a year since your accident at Kansas. How does it feel to go back again?
“I’m looking forward to going back to Kansas. I went back there in October last year, a few months after my injury, and actually got a top-10. 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.”
What does Mother’s Day mean to you?
“The mom in the family is the glue that holds it all together. My mom was certainly my taxi driver, my motivator, and facilitator – all of those things. I’m forever grateful for that. Now, to be married to my wife Janice and to see her be the mother to our two children (Alex and Abby) and really do the same things that were done for me growing up – making sure the house is running perfectly, and making sure everybody has everything they want, even if she doesn’t have what she wants. All of the sacrifices that go along with being a mom is incredible. I’m extremely thankful and grateful to have two incredible women in my life who are great mothers.”
Kansas Speedway Notes of Interest:
- Aric Almirola will make his 13th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City this weekend to bring his total of career Cup Series starts to 256.
The Smithfield driver has four top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile track. He has an average starting position of 16.8 and an average finishing position of 20.8.
- The Tampa native has made three NASCAR Xfinity Series start with a best finish of 12th, and two Camping World Truck Series starts to earn a best finish of seventh.
- Thursday, May 10, Almirola will visit Smithfield’s Kansas City office for a meet-and-greet with employees and to unveil this weekend’s No. 10 Prime Fresh Pork paint scheme. The event takes place 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. CDT and is open to the media.
- Almirola will be available to the media at 10:45 a.m. CDT Friday in the Kansas Speedway media center.
- This weekend at Kansas, the No. 10 Smithfield Ford will feature Smithfield’s Prime Fresh Pork collection instead of the traditional gold-white-and-black paint scheme. Smithfield’s Fresh Division employees will get a sneak peak of the car’s design Thursday in Kansas City, when Almirola joins them for an employee luncheon.
- Fans can enter for their chance to win the Smithfield Smoke Machine Ford Mustang designed by team co-owner Tony Stewart and drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. for Smithfield’s Mustang giveaway. Fans can enter for their chance to win the tricked-out street car and a trip to November’s Ford Championship weekend at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway by visiting SmithfieldRacing.com or by texting SMOKE to 82257.
- Smithfield has launched its summer “Hero of the Grill” contest, during which fans are encouraged to submit their grilling hero nominee and for a chance to win $5,000. The first 10,000 nominees will have the chance to have their name featured on Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September. To nominate a grilling hero, visit SmithfieldGetGrilling.com.
Ford has a series-best six wins this season, with five of the victories coming from the SHR camp – Kevin Harvick with four and Clint Bowyer with one. The blue oval has accrued six victories at this weekend’s 1.5-mile venue, which opened in 2001.
- Johnny Klausmeier is in his first full-time season as a Cup Series crew chief. The native of Perry Hall, Maryland transitioned from an engineer to Almirola’s crew chief for the 2018 season. Klausmeier has one win as a substitute crew chief while filling in for Tony Gibson at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June 2016. As a race engineer at SHR, Klausmeier has worked with drivers Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick and, most recently, Kurt Busch.
- Smithfield joined SHR this season and will be the primary partner for the majority of the season on the No. 10 Ford Fusion piloted by Almirola. 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.
- The 2018 season marks the 10th anniversary of SHR. The Kannapolis, North-Carolina-based team is co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and has recorded 44 victories and 37 poles since its inception in 2009. Stewart won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title and Harvick gave SHR its second title in 2014. SHR’s Kurt Busch won last year’s Daytona 500, and Harvick won June 25 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Harvick is coming off of back-to-back-to-back victories – Feb. 25 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 4 at Las Vegas, March 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix and most recently May 6 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Bowyer scored the organization’s fourth win of the season March 26 at Martinsville.
- SHR has captured two wins at Kansas – Stewart in October 2009 and Harvick in October 2016 – the team has 10 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s and two pole awards in 50 starts at the Kansas track.