Talladega Race Advance
Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: GEICO 500 (Round 9 of 36)
● Time/Date: 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday April 25
● Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
● Layout: 2.66-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 188 laps/500 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 68 laps
● TV/Radio: FOX / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Almirola tied the record last year of eight consecutive Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., from April 2001 and October 2004. Almirola’s average finish in his last 10 races at Talladega is 10.5 – the best average finish in the series.
● Almirola heads to the season’s first Talladega race under circumstances similar to last year’s first visit to the mammoth 2.66-ile oval – fresh off a solid finish that he said “stopped the bleeding” from previous bad luck. Last year, he arrived at Talladega fresh off a solid fifth-place result at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which was preceded by five consecutive finishes of 15th or worse. He finished third that weekend at Talladega, spinning backward across the finish line, for the second of his season-high nine consecutive top-10s.
● History at Talladega: In 22 starts, Almirola has earned one win, nine top-10 finishes, five top-fives, and has led 55 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega, Almirola visited victory lane in May 2017.
● In Almirola’s last start at Talladega last October, he was leading the field at the end of Stage 1 until he was contacted in the rear bumper, sending him into the outside wall and ending his day.
● Last weekend at Richmond, Almirola ended a streak of unfavorable outcomes with a sixth-place finish. It was his first top-10 of the season and second consecutive top-10 at Richmond.
● Looking at the next four racetracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Almirola has finished no worse than eighth at least once at each respective track in 2020. In addition to his third-place finish at Talladega last June, he was sixth at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, seventh at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and seventh at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
● The start to Almirola’s 2021 season has been mired by accidents and unfortunate situations, but the No. 10 team has performed much better than the results show. Almirola kicked off the season with a win at the Duel at Daytona. He proved to have a fast Smithfield Ford in the Daytona 500 before he was involved in an accident not of his doing while running at the front of the field. Almirola raced inside the top-10 the following weekend on the Daytona road course, showing his and the team’s improved speed at road courses, and ran inside the top-10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway before he was involved in an accident. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he gradually gained speed, running in the top-15 before a flat tire sent him into the wall, causing irreparable damage. At Phoenix Raceway, Almirola ran as high as sixth, but a speeding penalty demoted him to the rear of the field before he raced back to a solid 11th-place finish. Almirola cracked the top-14 at Atlanta Motor Speedway before handling issues hampered his progress, and he was not able to show his dirt-racing speed at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway due to an accident on lap 41, when he was pinched to the bottom lane and struck a large clump of dirt and then was contacted on all sides by multiple cars to end his day. At Martinsville, he had a potential top-10 spoiled by an incident not of his doing when he was contacted multiple times, putting him a lap down in 20th.
● Career Stats: Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 24 top-five finishes, 80 top-10s and 842 laps led in 361 NASCAR Cup Series starts.
● Smithfield Foods celebrates 10 years of partnership with Almirola this season with a special campaign called Taste Victory.As one of the most active partners in NASCAR, Smithfield plans to engage fans all year long by hosting a microsite that provides the opportunity to win when Almirola wins or finishes inside the top-10. When Almirola wins, one fan wins $10,000, and 10 fans win a gift card for each top-10 finish. The microsite also doubles as an Aric Almirola fan page and entertainment source where fans can get behind the wheel of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford with a custom racing game, and learn more about Almirola with fast facts, favorite recipes and custom content about his life on and off the track. Visit www.tastevictory.com to learn more. Thanks to Almirola’s Feb. 11 win in his Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500, one lucky fan has already won $10,000.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series:In 2021, Almirola continues to share 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.
● The Smithfield Ford team sits 27th in the championship standings with 137 points, 297 behind leader Denny Hamlin. Almirola is 77 points behind 16th-place Kurt Busch for the final playoff spot.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
What do you look for in a run at Talladega while you’re 77 points behind the playoff cutoff line?
“My goal at Talladega is always to earn as many playoff points as possible and win the race. We always have a fast setup there and we’re always able to put on a show up front. I’ve been wrecked at the front of the field multiple times, the back of the field, the middle, so you just race as smart as you can and treat it like any other race and hope you don’t get caught up in the big one. Talladega is always one we try to capitalize on and you just hope to be there at the end to have a shot at a win. That’s all you can do. When we’re there at the end we typically find ourselves contending for the win or a top-five.”
You have found the most success in your career at superspeedways. Why is that?|
“I always had to go to these races and be aggressive because, back in the day, they were our only realistic options to win races. It was the only way I could make it into the playoffs and we were able to do that in 2014. They’ve been good to me. I’ve always gone into those races with that mindset.”
What did it mean to finally win a race in 2018 after nearly winning multiple races but just coming up short?
“The win at Talladega was clutch. Going through the season and really being consistent from summer to the playoffs was great. We didn’t really have any devastating races throughout those months and never were a threat to really win races. Then, all of the sudden when the playoffs started, our performance really ramped up. We went into the first few races with chances to win, leading laps and running up front. Even right before that, you look at races like New Hampshire, where we led a lot of laps and felt like we had the potential to win. We kind of pointed our way into the playoffs.”