The NASCAR Cup Series drivers head to Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 6, for the first race at the California track since 2019. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola is using the trip to debut a brand-new scheme. He will represent Farmer John as he tries to win his first race at the road course.
According to Speedway Digest, the meat supplier has previously worked with Almirola one other time during his NASCAR career. He represented the brand during a race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. However, this particular red, white, and blue color scheme is brand new for the Cup Series race at Sonoma. The sponsorship is fitting considering that Farmer John has been a Southern California brand since 1931.
The driver of the No. 10 will now try to post a career-best finish at Sonoma while showcasing the new scheme. Almirola has eight starts at Sonoma in his Cup career and no wins. However, his two most recent trips out west since joining Stewart-Haas Racing resulted in eighth and ninth-place finishes, respectively. His previous career-best finish at Sonoma was 14th in 2015 while driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Almirola Will Lean on His Crew Chief During the Sonoma Race
When the driver of the No. 10 heads out onto the California road course for Sunday’s race, he will have a winning crew chief in his ear. Mike Bugarewicz previously worked as the crew chief for Tony Stewart, who reached Victory Lane three times at Sonoma during his Cup Series career.
Almirola first began working with Bugarewicz in 2020, but they did not make the trip out west due to COVID-19. Now they will head to Sonoma and try to take the checkered flag, which would be Almirola’s first at the track. Though he will first have to make up some ground in order to contend for the win.
“It’s definitely a good feeling since we haven’t been able to race there together yet,” Almirola said about the Sonoma trip, per Speedway Digest. “With the pandemic last year, we weren’t able to visit Sonoma in our first year together. We have been able to race a few road courses since, and we feel more confident at those tracks last year, so we are optimistic heading into the weekend. We’ll be starting 26th, so we’ve got a long way to go to get to the front.”
Almirola Has Struggled to Recreate 2020 Success
A playoff driver during the COVID-altered 2020 season, Almirola has struggled during the first 15 races of 2021. He has only posted one top-10, a sixth-place finish at Richmond. He has also crashed in five different races. NASCAR drivers shy away from talking about luck, but nothing has gone right for Almirola during a surprising season.
Almirola currently sits in the 28th position in the points standings, 12 spots below the cutoff line. He only has 195 points, which is 438 behind leader Denny Hamlin. This lack of points has played a major role in Almirola’s starting position each week, dropping him to the rear of the field for races where the drivers can’t practice or qualify.
Sunday’s race at Sonoma is only the latest example. Almirola will start the day on the 13th row next to teammate Chase Briscoe, who is 25th in points amid struggles of his own. The two SHR drivers will take on the road course while trying to turn a corner in their respective seasons.