Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Smithfield team saw improvement in Las Vegas last weekend after a disappointing showing in Atlanta. Now, the team heads to Phoenix Raceway, the first short track of the 2017 season, and looks for a solid finish to keep the team in the Top 15 of Championship Points.
Almirola has 12 Monster Energy Series starts at Phoenix Raceway. His had his best start of fifth in 2012 and finish of 10th in 2015. He tallied one Top-10, five Top-15 and nine Top-20 finishes in his career. Last spring, Almirola and team started 14th, raced in the Top-15 all day and finished 13th.
Fans will have a chance to say "Happy Birthday" to the "The King" when Petty makes an appearance on the DC Solar Power Pavilion (formerly Fan Midway) main stage for a Q&A at 9:15 a.m. prior to the start of the Camping World 500.
When: Sunday, March 19, 9:15 a.m.
Where: DC Solar Power Pavilion
Prior to the Monster Energy Series race, Almirola and Richard Petty will judge the Smithfield Grill Master Challenge. The 2017 competition will feature three fans as competitors who will be chosen at random. They will be given 90 minutes to prepare their own signature dish featuring Smithfield products. Almirola and Petty will judge the plates based on originality and creativity; oral presentation and visual appearance. The chef of the winning plate will receive a "King" prize pack.
When: Sunday, March 19, 9:45 a.m.
Where: Smithfield Display in the Fanzone
"I'm looking forward to going to Phoenix this weekend. We had a good weekend in Vegas and look to carry over momentum into this week. It's our first short track this season, and we usually do pretty well in the Spring race. So, I'm looking forward to putting our short track program to the test. Last year, we had a good short track program, especially toward the end of the season. We'll look to continue that this weekend in Phoenix."