No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: Ruoff Mortgage 500k (Round 4 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 13
● Location: Phoenix Raceway
● Layout: 1-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 312 laps/312 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 125 laps / Final Stage: 127 laps
● TV/Radio: FOX / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Almirola is the only NASCAR Cup Series driver with three consecutive top-10 finishes in the first three races of the season. 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 – making it Almirola’s best season through three races in 10 fulltime Cup Series seasons.
● Almirola’s average finish of 5.7 through the first three races tops all drivers this season. His average finish is even more impressive in light of the No. 10 team’s average starting position of 29.7, which ranks 34th in the series.
● History at Phoenix Raceway: Phoenix is the track where Almirola has arguably been most consistent in recent years. In his last eight starts there, he has earned five top-10 finishes – two of those being top-fours. He’s also led 33 laps at the mile oval. His most recent finish was sixth at the 2021 season finale on Nov. 7.
● Points: Almirola arrives at Phoenix sixth in the driver standings with 97 points, 16 out of first.
● Almirola’s career: In 391 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has earned three wins, 27 top-five finishes, 87 top-10s, three poles, and has led 893 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. This year marks Almirola’s 11th fulltime Cup Series season. The official press release can be viewed here.
● Smithfield Foods will adorn the No. 10 Ford Mustang as the primary sponsor this weekend. Headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, since 1936, Smithfield Foods, Inc. 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.
● 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.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
It seems you’ve been strongest in Stages 2 and 3 of the opening three races this season. Why is that?
“Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) has been doing a great job of making good adjustments throughout the race and just getting the car better and better. We take the first half of the race and it’s really about learning. We make adjustments. If they’re no good, we go back on them and just keep fine-tuning on the car to get it to where we need to get it. And, the last few weeks, we’ve gotten the car where we needed to have it at the end of the race. It’s been nice. It’s so much fun to race with this group of guys and everybody who supports us.”
You’re the only team to have three consecutive top-10 finishes to start the season. What can you attribute that to?
“We fight. That’s the beauty of this race team. We’re still learning this car. There’s a lot to learn about it and we’re still trying to figure a lot of things out. Practice is great, but we’ve got to make adjustments throughout the race and I feel like every race we’re learning more and more and we’re building a notebook. We’re making adjustments throughout the race and trying to figure it out. This team has so much fight in it and so much grit that it’s a lot of fun to race with these guys. We’ll keep digging and try and keep this streak alive. It’s a lot of fun when you run up front.”
How is it working with Drew Blickensderfer as your crew chief again in your final fulltime season?
“Just a lot of excitement. Drew is a great crew chief and he’s a great person and team leader. I think that bringing his enthusiasm in and just that freshness is good. He’s fired up and he’s excited about his opportunity. Drew’s got a long résumé and a lot of accomplishments, and the last several years he’s been operating at a level where he’s certainly been running and outperforming his resources. And now he has an opportunity to come to an organization like Stewart-Haas and have all the resources, the engineering backing that he needs, and he’s a great team leader. And then transitioning Mike Bugarewicz out of the crew chief role for us and putting him into more of a role where he’s having a direct effect on our entire organization with, you know, his smarts and his engineering background.”
What makes Phoenix so unique?
“Phoenix is just a fast short track. Ever since the repave, it races like a mile-and-a-half, which is different from a Richmond-, Martinsville- or Bristol-type of short track. It’s a fun race and I always look forward to heading out west to Phoenix – especially when we go there to cap off the season. There are so many cool things to do around Phoenix, too, like hiking and just enjoying the outdoors. It’s a great place.”
What’s the most important thing to be successful at Phoenix?
“You have to have everything at Phoenix. You have to have downforce, grip in your car and good brakes. You have to make sure your car turns well through the center of turns one and two, which is a sharp, banked corner. And then you have turns three and four, which are really fast and sweeping and flat. You’ve got to have a car that’s versatile and is a good compromise for both corners. We had that at Loudon, where we won, and we had it at Martinsville last fall.”