Atlanta 2 Advance
No. 10 Smithfield/IHOP Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: Atlanta 400 (Round 19 of 36)
● Time/Date: 7 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 9
● 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: NBC / MRN / 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 in March 2022, and returned in July 2022 to post an eighth-place finish. In his most recent start this past March, Almirola started fifth and led 17 laps before cutting a tire while leading, ultimately ending his day.
● 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 the inaugural Chicago Street Course race, Almirola brought home a solid 12th-place finish. It was a much-needed run after a string of bad luck.
● While Almirola is seeking a victory in the NASCAR Cup Series to catapult him into the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs, the 39-year-old veteran raced his way to victory lane June 10 in the Xfinity Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Atlanta 27th in the driver standings, 294 points out of first.
● Almirola’s career: In 442 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 92 top-10s, four poles, and has led 1,018 laps.
● 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.
● IHOP joins Smithfield this weekend as a sponsor on the No. 10 Ford Mustang with a brand new paint scheme. Since 1958, IHOP has been the place where people connect over breakfast, enjoy study breaks, grab a bite before or after sporting events, and so much more. And no matter what menu items they order, there’s one ingredient that’s always constant – a smile. IHOP has seen millions of smiles over the years in restaurants, and they’re now shared in photos across the company’s social properties. In fact, smiles are so much a part of IHOP’s culture that it changed its logo to include one.
● 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/IHOP Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
After three races with the new configuration at Atlanta, how would you describe the racing style, and what grade would you give the track?
“It’s not quite a superspeedway and it’s not quite a mile-and-a-half style. It has the style of a superspeedway, but it also has the handling and drivability of a mile-and-a-half track. I would grade Atlanta an ‘A-plus.’ We’re going to a track that is crazy fast. It is by far the fastest mile-and-a-half racetrack that we go to. As a racecar driver, we all want to go fast. That checks a box for me, and the speedway racing we get where we’re packed in, all racing on top of each other, the fans love it. They love seeing the cars all bunched together instead of spread out, so I give Atlanta a big ‘A’ from my standpoint.”
With your successful superspeedway career, do you look forward to Atlanta?
“I have always enjoyed going to Atlanta. It has been a place that we are so fast as a race team. It’s been a place where we have led a lot of laps recently and I look forward to going there knowing we can put ourselves in a position to win. Unfortunately, both times we have led laps we have been wrecked out or cut a tire from the lead toward the end of the race. Things have to go our way, eventually, and I know we can put ourselves back in that position again this weekend.”