● Event: Firekeepers Casino 400 (Round 23 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Aug. 7
● Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn
● Layout: 2-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 200 laps / 400 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 45 laps / Stage 2: 75 laps / Final Stage: 80 laps
● TV/Radio: USA Network / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● History at Michigan: In 18 NASCAR Cup series starts at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Almirola has two top-10 finishes and 13 laps led. He has three NASCAR Xfinity series starts there with a best finish of eighth, and has one win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series in only two starts, the win coming in June 2010.
● Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team have proven they can find speed at 2-mile ovals. In just their second points-paying start in the NextGen car Feb. 27 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, they finished sixth.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at Michigan 16th in the driver standings with 515 points, 306 out of first.
● Playoff Points: The No. 10 Ford driver sits 18th in the playoff standings, 156 points behind the top-16 cut line.
● Almirola’s career: In 410 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has earned three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 90 top-10s, three poles, and has led 899 laps.
● One More Time: On Jan. 10,Almirola released a video on his YouTube channel announcing his retirement from fulltime NASCAR Cup Series racing after the 2022 season to spend more time with his family. His opening remarks were attributed to his grandfather’s mentorship. This year marks Almirola’s 11th fulltime Cup Series season. The official press release can be viewed here.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series:In 2022, Almirola is once again sharing his life beyond the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with season three 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 it 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.
● Almirola was the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to finish in the top-10 in this year’s opening three races. He finished fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, sixth at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Almirola’s top-10 streak ended with a 12th-place finish at Phoenix Raceway despite running inside the top-10 throughout the race.
● Smithfield Foods, Inc., headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, since 1936, 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. Smithfield boasts a portfolio of high-quality iconic brands, such as Smithfield®, Eckrich® and Nathan’s Famous®, among many others. For more information, visit www.SmithfieldFoods.com, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Can you take anything from the longer, faster tracks like Fontana and Pocono and apply that to Michigan?
“Michigan is so much different than Fontana and Pocono, but what we can take away from those venues is that this team can find speed. We finished sixth at Fontana early in the year when we really didn’t have any notes on this new car. We had a lot of speed that day and I felt like we found some speed at Pocono, too.”
How crazy are the restarts at Michigan, and are they the best times to take advantage of opportunities to gain track position?
“I feel like restarts are definitely the time to gain or lose track position, so you have to be on offense and defense at the same time. Michigan is very wide and you want to be aggressive and go take spots away, but you can easily give up four or five spots that are really hard to get back once we get single file.”
Some tracks are very line-sensitive on restarts. Is Michigan one of them?
“Last year’s car certainly made Michigan very line-sensitive on restarts. I’m not sure what to expect yet with the NextGen car, but I assume it will be similar. The outside lane is usually the dominant lane. The cars in the inside lane usually lose sideforce – they lose the air on the side of their car – and they are very loose down there in turns one and two on the restart. The outside lane usually has the momentum and is the preferred lane going through (turns) one and two on the restarts.”
Do you feel confident heading to Michigan?
“Michigan is always a weird place for me because, in my mind, I feel like I run well there. I won a Truck race there years ago and, from that point forward, I just always loved going to Michigan. My wife’s family is from Michigan, so I go to Michigan with such a great attitude. We have had a few top-five cars at Michigan and didn’t execute and things didn’t go our way with the restarts and I didn’t get the result, so I’m confident this 10 team can bring us a fast car. I’m excited about going back. Going to Michigan, there’s always a lot of pride for the manufacturers. I’d love to go there and keep the trophy in Ford’s backyard.”