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NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver Aric Almirola signs autographs on his way to the driver's meeting during the Talladega Superspeedway spring race. (Photo by Trent Penny)

TALLADEGA — If you like bacon, NASCAR driver Aric Almirola is your guy.

He's part of a promotion run by Smithfield, in which fans can sign up at racinforbacongiveaway.com, and if Almirola wins the 1000bulbs.com Cup race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, 10 winners will split a prize package of a million slices of bacon.

Smithfield — an Almirola sponsor for about eight years — had the same promotion last year. If Almirola won the fall race at Talladega, a fan would get free bacon for life.

Almirola rolled across the finish line first, and Joseph Craig of Little Rock, Ark., got a surprise visit from the driver with his prize.

On Friday before lunch, as Almirola took his turn in the Talladega Superspeedway media center, he fielded a question about his success at the track. He took advantage to talk bacon.

"Last year, it was a lot of fun, we won and gave somebody — I think his name was Joe — and his family free bacon for life. Smithfield has come back and upped the ante, and they're going to give a million slices to 10 lucky winners at racinforbacongiveaway.com."

He followed by giving the website address, before realizing how much of a pitch man he sounds like: "That was a sponsor plug, by the way," he said with a smile.

Almirola has had plenty of reason to smile at Talladega in recent years. In his last six Cup races at Talladega, he hasn't finished any lower than ninth. He was fourth in the 2017 spring race, fifth in the 2017 fall race, and first in the 2018 fall race.

That win is one of two in his career. His other came in 2014 at Daytona, which is the other restrictor-plate track on the Cup circuit.

"Daytona and Talladega have been good for me," Almirola said Friday. "I don't know what it is. I don't know why. I can't put my finger on it. I enjoy it. I know a lot of these racers come to these races and dread it.

"I come here, and I enjoy it. I like it. I think it's fun to be an inch apart from 39 other drivers going 200 miles per hour. It's crazy and wild, and I embrace it."

Last year, which was his first with Stewart-Haas Racing after leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, Almirola finished fifth in the points standings. He also had a career-high 17 finishes in the top 10.

This year, he made the 16-driver playoff but was eliminated in the first round. He is 13th in the standings and looking for his first win.

"Last year was a good year for us," Almirola said. "This year has been an OK year but certainly not the year that we had hoped or wanted. We're going to continue to strive for more success."

For this week, he's excited to be back at a place where he has won.

"Talladega has been a good place for us," he said.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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