Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/25/14

LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 26: Aric Almirola, driver of the #51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota stands during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 26, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

CONCORD, N.C.  - Smithfield Foods returns as primary sponsor of the No. 43 Ford as Aric Almirola and his Richard Petty Motorsports team prepare to go road-course racing at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.  And the Petty blue-and-black Smithfield paint scheme that hits the 2.45-mile road course will be no ordinary design.

The No. 43 scheme for Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen was created by long-time Petty fan and graphic designer Kevin Gates.  Gates sent a sketch to Smithfield earlier this season on a whim and, much to his surprise and delight, learned the race team’s partner was going to update its scheme to reflect his design.  The Gates-designed scheme also ran at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star race in May.

The race on the 2.45-mile, seven-turn course will be the second road race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.  Almirola has one previous Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen – a 35th-place finish in 2008.  He also has an eighth-place finish at the course in the Nationwide Series (2011).

Away from the race course, Smithfield will be leaving its mark in the Watkins Glen community before the race even starts.  As part of its nationwide Feeding the Hungry initiative, the company will be making a donation of 30,000 pounds of food on Friday to The Food Bank of the Southern Tier 388.  The food donation will take place at the Tops Market at 504 ½ Franklin St. in Watkins Glen.  Representatives of Richard Petty Motorsports will be on hand for the “Ham Brigade,” which begins Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola: “It’s great to have Smithfield back on our No. 43 Ford this week at Watkins Glen.  They have been such a great partner this year.  I’ve really enjoyed everything we’ve worked on together, both at the track and away from it.  They have a great presence in the community and a desire to give back, which makes them a great partner with Richard Petty Motorsports since that’s something that this race team has always believed in.

“It’s also cool to be running a paint scheme that a fan designed.  The devotion of Petty fans is unbelievable and it was awesome of Smithfield to make Kevin’s dream come true.  Watkins Glen is a cool track – I’ve raced it a couple times before – and we’re going to work hard to get that blue-and-black Smithfield scheme running up front.”

Comments from Crew Chief Mike Ford on Watkins Glen: “Watkins Glen is a lot faster than Sonoma, the other road course we race on, so you don’t have the benefit of taking the same car or set-up or relying on the same notes.  It’s a different animal.  But Aric has raced this course before, both in Cup and Nationwide, so he brings some experience and he’ll know what to expect.

“Brakes are important at Watkins Glen because you’re mixing high speeds with sharp turns, so we need to take care of the brakes.  Fuel mileage always comes into play, too, so we have to race smart and give ourselves an opportunity to be in good position at the end.”

Chassis History: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 760 for the Watkins Glen race.  This car was last run one year ago at the 2011 Watkins Glen race.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMarco Murray's dirty text to ex-teammate's wife shared

Dodgers, Padres reportedly in trade talks for Matt Kemp

David Ortiz: I haven't spoken to A-Rod in almost one year

Ryan Leaf released from prison, looks shockingly different

Art Briles: It's un-American to keep TCU ahead of Baylor

Gronkowski not worried about 'Bieber Curse': 'On to San Diego'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Texans place Jadeveon Clowney on injured reserve list

Nebraska hires Mike Riley as new football coach

Michael Vick doesn’t view being benched as being benched

Report: Jay Gruden has issues with RG3 on and off field

Buster Olney will abstain from Hall of Fame voting

Charles Barkley weighs in on Eric Garner’s death

WATCH: Blimp crashes info fans at Blazers-Pacers game

WATCH: UCF beats ECU with game-ending Hail Mary

Cuba's new baseball revolution

Are the Dallas Mavericks title contenders?

Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo had breakfast together in Boston?

10 best available 2015 MLB non-tenders

10 candidates to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

WATCH: Arian Foster speaks to media in British accent

Jim McElwain hired as Florida Gators football coach

NFL MVP Race: J.J. Watt or Aaron Rodgers?

WATCH: Ed Reed asks if hanging with Bieber could hurt Patriots

Ranking the NFL’s remaining nationally televised games

NASCAR News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Big Papi: I haven't spoken to A-Rod

Are the Mavs title contenders?

Gronk not worried about 'Bieber Curse'

10 best available MLB non-tenders

10 candidates to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

Gruden has off-field issues with RG3?

NFL's top nationally televised games left

The great un-busting of Mark Sanchez

WATCH: One-handed boy golfs with Tiger

Mavs coach T'd up for Cuban?

Torii Hunter rips reporter at presser

Where will Harbaugh coach next?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.