New Hampshire Advance
No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: Ambetter 301 (Round 20 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 17
● Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon
● Layout: 1.058-mile Oval
● Laps/Miles: 301 laps/318.46 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stages 1: 75 laps / Stage 2: 110 laps / Final Stage: 116 laps
● TV/Radio: USA / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Almirola is the most recent NASCAR Cup Series race winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After a two-hour rain delay, Almirola and the field battled daylight during the race last July. With darkness closing in on the 1.058-mile oval, Almirola sprung to life late and pulled off the surprise victory, his and Stewart-Haas Racing’s first of the year. The win catapulted Almirola from 27th in the standings to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year and fifth time in his career.
● History at New Hampshire: While last year’s win was his first at New Hampshire, Almirola has been on a hot streak there since joining SHR. In the last four races at “The Magic Mile,” Almirola is ranked second overall behind only teammate Kevin Harvick. In his first start at New Hampshire with SHR in 2018, he finished third, then 11th the following year. In 2020, he started from the pole and finished seventh before returning last year for his first career victory at the track. In 18 starts at New Hampshire, Almirola has four top-10 finishes and two top-fives with 56 laps led.
● Almirola has already shown success at a track like New Hampshire in the NextGen car. The No. 10 driver finished fifth at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois, which is a flat, 1.25-mile oval with similarities to New Hampshire in turns three and four.
● Almirola heads to New Hampshire fresh off an eighth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was his sixth top-10 of the season. After 19 races this season, Almirola is the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series without a DNF (Did Not Finish). He has completed all but five laps of the 4,972 run this year – a 99.9 percent completion rate.
● Driver Points: Almirola arrives at New Hampshire 12th in the driver standings with 481 points, 203 out of first.
● Playoff Points: The No. 10 Ford driver sits 18th in the playoff standings, 42 points behind the top-16 playoff cut line. Almirola has scored more points than six of the 13 drivers currently locked into the playoffs by virtue of race wins this season.
● Almirola’s career: In 407 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:
What do you think of when you think of this race a year ago?
“I think of it being a great day and a day that changed the course of our entire season. I’m looking forward to going back. We’re in a much different situation this year. A lot closer to being in on points, but with so many new winners this year, it’s pretty apparent you’re going to have to win to get in. This weekend will be a great opportunity to go win. When I look at this year compared to last, we have some races where we hit it and some where we missed. It felt great to have a car that strong that could control the race. We’re at a point in the season where we’re just now coming back to tracks for the second time with notes, so it’s really hard to compare to last year. We were really good at Phoenix to open the year, and great at Gateway, so I think we already have some good notes to go from.”
You earned a top-five finish at Gateway earlier this year. Are there similarities to New Hampshire you can benefit from?
“I think so. Turns three and four at Gateway are very similar to the turns at Loudon. There are some aspects unique to Loudon, but it’s still a short track. I think there are some things from a confidence level and comfortability because I enjoy that style of racetrack. It fits my driving style. I’ve always run well at Loudon. I remember the first time I got in Jimmie Johnson’s Cup car when I was there on baby watch. I got in his car on Saturday morning for practice and actually went faster than he did, and that was a big boost of confidence for me. That practice session really changed the course of my career. It opened the eyes to a lot of general managers and team owners. I think it changed everyone’s mind. It happened quickly after that. Dale Jr. called and asked if I would drive the No. 88 in the (NASCAR Xfinity Series) and that led to an opportunity at Richard Petty Motorsports.”
No one thought you would dominate the New Hampshire race last year, being outside the top-20 in points. Does it mean a lot when you make those statement wins and prove everyone wrong?
“Not really. In general, we’re not a favorite for most of the races. We show up most weekends as the underdog and we just believe in ourselves. We show up every weekend knowing that if we do all the small things right and have a good car, we’ll have a chance at a win.”
Do you feel like you have to make the playoffs to consider it a great year?
“Making the playoffs is the goal. You can’t run for a championship if you don’t make the playoffs. We start every year with a list of goals and the priority is to do everything you can to make the playoffs, whether that is on points or winning races. We’ve done a good job this year of scoring points and putting ourselves in a position that typically would have us racing our way in by points. But with this atypical year, we’ve had a ton of different winners. I feel like we are having a good year and that’s crazy to feel that way considering where we are in the points. I feel like I’ve had as good of a year as any year at Stewart-Haas and the playoffs were achieved in those years. To be on the outside right now just speaks to the competitiveness. Last weekend, you saw Corey Lajoie almost win it, and he’s outside of the top-30, so it’s a crazy year where anyone can win it at any time.”