Aric Almirola has one Sprint Cup career start at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and he remembers the view well - he was at the front of the pack. This week the driver of the No. 43 Smithfield Ford returns to the track where he earned his first career pole in May in hopes of repeating the feat and more.
The familiar blue and black colors of Smithfield return to the No. 43 Ford Fusion for Saturday night's Bank of America 500, the first time the team partner will be showcased at NASCAR's "home track."
For the race this weekend, Smithfield Packing will host more than 100 VIP customer guests in a trackside hospitality chalet - with attendees from grocery retailers such as BI-LO, Food City, DeCA U.S. Military Commissaries, Lowes Foods, Piggly Wiggly and more. Smithfield's guests will enjoy a pre-race meal in the hospitality chalet, a guided pit and garage tour, a meet-and-greet with Richard Petty and Almirola, and grandstand seats from which to watch the night-racing action.
Almirola topped the Charlotte field in May with a qualifying speed of 192.940 miles per hour. He went on to finish 16th in the Memorial Day weekend race.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"We're obviously looking forward to going back to Charlotte Motor Speedway. We earned the pole there in May and it was just a great moment for our team, for Richard Petty Motorsports and for me personally. It was my first pole in the Cup series and a real boost for me and my team. Now that we've got so many more races under our belt, I think we can do even better. We finished 16th in that race, which was a solid finish for where we were at that time in the season. I think with everything we've learned, we can not only bring a fast car to the track like we did in May, but we can perform better in the race itself and even give ourselves a shot at a win.
"It's great to have the Smithfield colors back on the car this week. I can't say enough about what a great partner they've been all season. We're going to have a big group of Smithfield guests coming to the race on Saturday, and we're going to work really hard to give them a good show as a thank-you for all their support."
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Charlotte:
"We always look forward to racing at Charlotte - it's home. It gives the guys a chance to bring their family and friends out to the track and be a part of everything. I think we can have a really good run here, too. Aric earned the pole and ran a good race here in the spring, and I know we can improve on that 16th-place finish. We've made a lot more gains with our mile-and-a-half program since then, and Aric has learned a lot more, so we'll be better prepared to adapt throughout the race as the car needs it."