Aric Almirola is riding the momentum of a 12th-place finish in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion during the 2016 season-opener in Daytona. Currently sitting 12th in points, the team will look to jump higher in the standings with another strong run at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Richard Petty Motorsports team came off of a solid 2015 season as the highest-earning points team that was not in The Chase. To get a jump on the competition to have this season be even more successful, a significant amount of time at the shop in Mooresville, N.C during the off-season was spent working of the intermediate track package for both Sprint Cup Series teams. Between the team's technical advancements and the performance of the No. 43 Smithfield team during Speedweeks, confidence is high going into Sunday's 500-mile race.
Almirola has five Sprint Cup Series starts under his belt at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With one Top-10 finish at the track, finishing ninth in the 2014 race, Almirola has no DNFs at the intermediate track. Almirola also ran two XFINITY Series races at the 1.5-mile track, with his top finish of eighth coming from the 2011 race.
Fans at Atlanta Motor Speedway will have the opportunity to see Almirola when he and "The King" Richard Petty judge Smithfield's Whole Hog Challenge on Sunday morning at 10:15 a.m. The challenge will take place at the Smithfield display in the fan midway, and pre-selected race fans will have the opportunity to compete against one another to see who can eat 2 lbs. of Smithfield bacon the fastest. The winner will compete in the final Whole Hog Challenge in Miami against the other 2016 winners to close out the season and crown a champion.
When: Sunday, February 28 from 10:15 a.m.
Where: Smithfield Display in the Fan Midway at Atlanta Motor Speedway
"Atlanta is a rough race track; it's very abrasive on the tires. But, our Ford Fusions are different this year. The new bodies will require new setups, and it's going to be a lot of trial and error. We haven't had a chance to be on the race track, so we're relying heavily on simulations. It's going to be a challenge, but I feel really good about where we're at as a team. Building fast race cars is one thing, but having good people makes all the difference. This is the best team that we've ever had assembled for a season, and I'm excited. I think that the success that we had last year will carry over to this year. We had a good run at Daytona and are in a good spot in the points; so hopefully, we pick up a few spots and get into the Top-10 in points."