Atlanta Race Advance
No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: Ambetter Health 400 (Round 5 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 19
● Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.54-mile Oval
● Laps/Miles: 260 laps/400 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stages 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 100 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps
● TV/Radio: FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Before last year’s racing took place, the 1.5-mile oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway was repaved and reconfigured. The banking in the corners was increased from 24 to 28 degrees, and the track width was reconfigured to vary from 55 to 40 feet. Racing on the intermediate oval now is more akin to that on the big tracks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and its sister track Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Almirola finished 22nd after leading six laps at Atlanta on March 20, 2022, and returned July 10 to post an eighth-place finish.
● Overcoming adversity is a staple of Almirola’s career. While the start to the 2023 season has not been what the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team is capable of due largely to bad luck and mechanical issues, Almirola has always seemed to find his way back on top. In 2021, The No. 10 team was in the same points position through four races as this year, but Almirola still made the playoffs for his fourth consecutive year at Stewart-Haas Racing. He strives in the underdog position.
● Almirola has a solid record at superspeedways with two wins, six top-fives, 12 top-10s and 84 laps led. In June 2020, he scored his eighth-consecutive top-10 at Talladega to tie the track record for most consecutive top-10s – a mark first set by Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., from April 2001 to October 2004.
● Last weekend at Phoenix, Almirola raced his way from 31st to 16th before his right-front wheel broke under green-flag conditions, causing the No. 10 driver to make contact with the wall and putting him five laps down.
● Almirola had a strong start in the first two outings of the season by winning his heat race and starting on the pole during the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Then, in the points-paying season opener at Daytona, the 38-year-old veteran won his Duel qualifying race and led 16 laps Daytona 500 – the most laps he’s led at Daytona in 23 starts.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Atlanta 26th in the driver standings with 56 points.
● Almirola’s career: In 428 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 91 top-10s, three poles, and has led 990 laps.
● Fans will see the iconic white, black, and gold Smithfield Foods scheme adorn Almirola’s Ford Mustang this weekend. Smithfield has been a sponsor of Almirola’s for the entirety of his fulltime NASCAR Cup Series career – making it one of the longest-lasting partnerships in NASCAR. Smithfield is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 63,000 team members are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly.®” Smithfield is one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. The company has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including its industry-leading commitments to become carbon negative in U.S. company-owned operations and reduce GHG emissions 30 percent across its entire U.S. value chain by 2030. Smithfield believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to local communities.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2023, Almirola is continuing to share his life beyond the No. 10 Ford with season five of his award-winning YouTube series. Fans and media can subscribe on YouTube to see Almirola’s personality on and off the track. Episodes have already featured life as a dad, a husband and an athlete, and the show gives fans a unique perspective on what goes on in the life of a professional NASCAR driver. Fans can also follow Almirola’s social media channels: @Aric_Almirola on Twitter and Instagram, and @AricAlmirola on Facebook.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Despite winning your Duel qualifying race at Daytona, the No. 10 team has had a difficult start to the season. How is your mindset moving forward?
“We have had some of the worst luck to start a season, but we have found speed. The West Coast swing was not for us this year. We had good speed at Fontana before we were collected in a wreck with nowhere to go. Vegas was a top-15 run, and last weekend at Phoenix was by far the fastest car we have had this year. We passed a lot of cars at Phoenix and we easily had a top-six car. If we didn’t have that issue with the wheel, we would have been a contender in the top-five there at the end. I know it. I know this 10 team can find winning speed. Things just have not gone our way, but it’s a long season. I’m ready to hit reset and forget about the start we’ve had. You can’t dwell on it because it’s in the past. We’re going to have really good days and there are always bad days, so we’re going to aim to capitalize on those good days. In 2021, we had an even worse start to the season and we went out and made the playoffs. Last year, we had the most consecutive top-10s in the series to start the season, but we didn’t make the playoffs. You just have to take it one race at a time. One weekend can get you back on track and I hope it starts in Atlanta.”
What are your expectations for the No. 10 Smithfield team at Atlanta this weekend?
“We led some laps in our first start at the new configuration and had a really fast car. We had another fast car in July, too, so I like our chances at Atlanta if we can stay out of trouble and run a clean race. Ideally, we can get up front and have a really good points day to get ourselves out of this hole. Atlanta is a place we can do that, so we’re hoping to bounce back this weekend.”
Is Atlanta just as much of a wild-card race as Daytona and Talladega, now?
“I would say so. It definitely races like a superspeedway, more than I thought it would. It’s definitely a wild-card race. You have guys up front that aren’t normally up front, but you still have to have a fast car and good handling to have a shot at it.”