Aric Almirola will take to Chicagoland Speedway this week with a new look and a new team. His No. 43 Ford will sport the Farmland paint scheme for the first of four races. The Kansas City, Mo.-based producer of pork products is part of the Smithfield Foods family, with which Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports have celebrated a successful relationship all season.
Sunday's GEICO 400 will also be the first race with new crew chief Todd Parrott atop the No. 43 pit box. Richard Petty Motorsports switched crew chiefs and team members between the Nos. 9 and 43 teams earlier this week.
Farmland's sponsorship of the No. 43 Ford coincides with its 2012 launch of a series of innovative pork offerings, including Oven Perfect Fresh Pork, dry rubbed seasoned and marinated fresh pork that cooks right in the bag; 35% Lower Sodium 33% Less Fat Hickory Smoked Bacon; and Twin-Pack Hickory Smoked Bacon - two half-pound bacon packages, sealed for freshness so one pack can be used immediately while the other half stays sealed for freshness.
"We feel like our partnership with RPM and NASCAR is a perfect fit," said Brendan Smith, Farmland vice president of marketing. "We know how passionate fans are for the sport and how much pride they have when their driver wins the race. We have that same passion and pride when it comes to our pork products. That's why we work side by side with our farmers, hand trim our cuts and use only hardwoods like hickory to smoke our signature bacon for more than seven hours."
The Farmland colors will also adorn the No. 43 Ford at Kansas, Texas and Phoenix this season.
Sunday's race will be Almirola's first Sprint Cup start at Chicago, but he has three starts at the track in the Nationwide Series, including two top-five finishes and one pole. He also has two Chicago starts in the Camping World Truck Series - both top-10 finishes.
Comments from Farmland Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"We've done some programs with Farmland already this season, so it feels like we're old friends by now. But it will be great to finally get that paint scheme out on track. They're a cool company, really passionate about what they do, and they recognize that NASCAR fans are really passionate about their teams and their drivers and their sponsors. So they're really excited to be getting involved and we're happy to welcome them.
"I like Chicagoland Speedway and I've always run well there in other series, so I'm looking forward to going back there. It's a mile-and-a-half track similar to some other tracks we go to, but it has its own character. We've learned some things at the last couple intermediate tracks we've gone to, and I know Todd (Parrott) has made good progress with Marcos (Ambrose) on the intermediate tracks, too, so I think we can combine all that information to have a fast Farmland Ford come Sunday."
Comments from Crew Chief Todd Parrott on Chicago:
"Chicago is one of the tracks on the schedule that Aric has not been to in a Cup car, but he's had good results in Nationwide and Trucks, so we've just got to get him acclimated to the Cup car on the track. It's also a track that we now only go to once a year, so it's a rare race in the second half of the season where we don't have notes to look back on from a first race earlier in the year.
"A lot of these mile-and-a-half tracks get referred to as 'cookie-cutter tracks,' but they really all have their own unique characteristics. So it's not like you can take the same set-up to each one of them. Chicago has its own unique shape and has kind of a rough surface to it, so we'll need keep the ride from upsetting the car and also pay attention to tire wear."