No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: NOCO 400 (Round 9 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 16
● Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
● Layout: .526-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 400 laps / 210 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 100 laps / Final Stage: 220 laps
● TV/Radio: FS1 / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● History at Martinsville: In 28 starts, Aric Almirola has earned seven top-10 finishes, one top-five and has led 75 laps on the .526-mile, paperclip-shaped Martinsville (Va.) Speedway oval. He qualified second at Martinsville at last year’s April race.
● In two races this season with the NextGen car’s new short-track aero package, Almirola’s finishes have not been indicative of his speed. On the mile oval at Phoenix Raceway last month, he started from the rear of the field and drove to 13th before a wheel broke off his racecar, sending him to the pits and putting him multiple laps down. On the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond (Va.) Raceway two weekends ago, he drove from 32nd into the top-10 during the final stage before finishing 13th.
● Last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway’s third annual dirt race, Almirola started 19th and consistently climbed through the field to third place in the final stage, his highest running position in three Bristol dirt-race starts. He stayed in and around the top-five until a mechanical failure forced the No. 10 Smithfield team to call him to the pits for repair work that placed him 10 laps down. He finished 31st.
● Almirola had a strong start in the first two outings of the season when he won his heat race and started on the pole during the non-points-paying Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Then, in the points-paying season opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the 38-year-old veteran won his Duel qualifying race and led 16 laps of the 500 – the most laps he’s led at Daytona in 23 starts.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Martinsville 29th in the driver standings, 180 points out of first.
● Almirola’s career: In 432 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 91 top-10s, three poles, and has led 1,007 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:
Although your finish last weekend at Bristol was not indicative of the top-10 run you had going, do you feel the season is beginning to trend in the right direction?
“I think so. It’s just part of life sometimes. The last seven or eight races just haven’t gone our way, starting at Daytona. We got off to a great start winning our Duel and I felt like we had a chance to win the Daytona 500, then that didn’t play out well for us and it just carried on to the next several weeks. Going to Richmond was a great turn for us. We ran really well, but we had to start in the back due to qualifying getting canceled. We drove from 32nd to the top-10 and looked like we were going to run seventh before the caution came and we had to put on scuffs. Nothing catastrophic happened. We had a good day on pit road. We did all the things we needed to do right, so I felt like it was a good way to turn our season around.”
Are you encouraged by what you’re seeing with the modifications to the short-track package?
“I am. I think it’s still really difficult to pass, but I think it’s because we’re all so close on speed. I think it’s pretty tough to pass another car when you’re only a half-tenth faster than them. You have to be substantially faster to pass another car or you have to have more options on the track. Richmond is a place where you have options. You can move to that middle lane or you can move higher on the racetrack, or guys miss the bottom and you can get under them. Phoenix didn’t seem like there was as big of a difference from the old package. It’s certainly in the right direction in having more off-throttle time and making the cars less aero-dependent.”
How do you expect the aero package to affect the racing at Martinsville?
“I don’t know. Martinsville will be hard because the speeds are down. When speeds go down, the downforce is less of a factor, anyway. The 150 mile-per-hour entry speeds at Phoenix versus Martinsville at 120 miles per hour is a big difference in the way the cars drive in traffic. I don’t know that Martinsville will be a huge difference from the old package, but we’ll see.”