Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) make the long trek out to ISM Raceway near Phoenix for the 35th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this season. Almirola heads into the event after finishing eighth last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
The entire four-car SHR contingent remains in the hunt for the winner-take-all Championship 4 season finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with only this weekend’s event at Phoenix left to try and qualify. The two-time championship-winning SHR organization, which makes up 50 percent of the remaining playoff field, is the first since Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016 to have all of its entries reach victory lane. Almirola currently ranks seventh in the playoff standings with 4,068 points, 35 behind the final cutoff spot for the Championship 4. The 34-year-old is in a virtual must-win situation if he is to be one of the four championship-eligible drivers at Homestead.
The Smithfield driver heads into the weekend coming off his 15th top-10 of the season behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford Fusion. Almirola scored one of those top-10s in March on the mile oval at Phoenix, his second straight top-10 there. The Tampa native ran as high as second in this year’s spring event before finishing seventh. Almirola has 15 career starts at Phoenix with an average starting position of 19.5, an average finishing position of 16.3, and he’s completed 99.9 percent of all laps possible at the desert track.
Almirola is back to piloting the traditional Smithfield paint scheme this weekend but, with the holiday season is just around the corner, Smithfield continues to promote its perfectly cooked, spiral sliced ham as an ideal addition to most every kind of holiday feast to make family and friends feel special. Not only does it make holiday cooking a breeze, it provides equally flavorful leftover dishes. Fans can visit Smithfield.com/HolidayHub for information on how to make every holiday soiree a breeze, as well as foolproof tips and simple recipes that are sure to wow holiday guests with flavor-filled dishes for all the celebrations the season brings.
Over Almirola’s last 10 starts at a track less than or equal to a mile in length, he’s scored one top-five finish and four top-10s. Additionally, he’s led 67 laps and completed 98.3 percent of all laps possible while earning an average starting position of 14.1 and an average finishing position of 12.4.
On Oct. 14, the Tampa native piloted a special bacon-themed Smithfield Ford Fusion to victory lane at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The unique paint scheme coincided with Smithfield’s Bacon for Life promotion. Yes, it’s possible to win bacon for life. The sweepstakes runs until Dec. 31, and fans can enter by finding specially marked packages of Smithfield bacon in stores, then visiting Smithfield.com/BaconForLife and entering the unique code provided in the package. More than 1,000 runners-up will be awarded select bacon merchandise.
Phoenix is the 32nd points-paying event during which 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.
Through 34 races this season, Almirola has one win with an average start of 15.6 and an average finish of 13.1 with three top-five finishes and 15 top-10s. He’s also led 181 laps this season, already a career best with two races remaining.