Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield/Waffle House Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will venture just a few miles down the road from the race shop for Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. While this weekend is an exhibition race, the No. 10 team is riding the momentum from last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City after qualifying fourth and taking the checkered flag ninth.
This weekend marks the sixth time Almirola will compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series non-points race. In 2015, he was locked into the main event after capturing his first Cup Series win the previous year, which automatically qualified him for the All-Star Race. This year, Almirola will need to qualify his way into the main event by either winning a stage in the All-Star Open that precedes it, or by earning the most fan votes. If Almirola succeeds in one of those two things, he will earn another opportunity to win the $1 million grand prize and compete in the All-Star Race against his three SHR teammates, who have already secured their spots by virtue of winning last year or so far this year.
Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion will have a different look for Saturday’s event that is a perfect fit for this weekend’s All-Star theme. Waffle House will appear on the car to help kick off its first-ever “Who’s Your All-Star?” sweepstakes in conjunction with Smithfield Foods. Fans can enter beginning Saturday by snapping a photo with their favorite Waffle House associate and sharing via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WhosYourAllStar. The top-10 associates and the customers who nominated them will receive special recognition and a Waffle House gift card. One grand prize customer and associate winner will each receive a VIP experience to the NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Waffle House restaurants are headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, which is approximately four hours southwest from the Kannapolis, North Carolina headquarters of SHR. The company operates more than 1,850 restaurants in 25 states.
On the racetrack at Charlotte this weekend, most notable is the new rules package with which NASCAR’s competition department has challenged the teams and drivers. Horsepower-reducing restrictor plates will be used for the first time at the 1.5-mile venue, as well as changes to the aerodynamic package. The modifications have been implemented in hopes of tightening the field for the event and generate added excitement.
The 34-year-old Almirola has one top-five and four top-10 finishes in the Open. In his lone start in the main event in 2014, he finished 14th.
In addition to the Waffle House sweepstakes, fans can enter for their chance to win Smithfield’s Smoke Machine Mustang designed by team co-owner Tony Stewart with the help of drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. They helped create a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. Fans can register for their chance to win the suped-up Mustang and a trip to November’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead by visiting SmithfieldRacing.com, or by texting SMOKE to 82257.
Fans also continue to have the opportunity to celebrate the summer grilling season by entering Smithfield’s “Hero of the Grill” contest that Almirola and five-time world-champion barbecue pitmaster Tuffy Stone helped launch earlier this month. Fans are encouraged to nominate their favorite grill hero by visiting SmithfieldGetGrilling.com. One “Hero of the Grill” nominee will win $5,000. Plus, the first 10,000 nominees will have the chance to see their name featured on Almirola’s No. 10 Smithfield Ford at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September.
Charlotte All-Star weekend marks the 11th time the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.