CINCINNATI – Eckrich, a John Morrell Food Group business that is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, is celebrating the processor’s first of three primary race sponsorships of Aric Almirola and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and their partnership with Operation Homefront.

Richard Petty and Almirola unveiled a specially designed racing tire bank June 29 at the Kentucky Motor Speedway. Joining the drivers were representatives of Operation Homefront and a military family who are serving as guests of Eckrich and the race team during the race weekend. Fans are encouraged to donate to Operation Homefront by placing their loose change in the tire bank to help military families. Petty and Almirola began collecting change by placing 43 cents into the tire.

The bank was unveiled outside the race hauler and race fans were able to immediately start their donations over the weekend. This unique bank is scheduled to travel to all of Eckrich's sponsored races during the summer including Indianapolis on July 29 and Michigan on Aug. 19. All money collected will be donated to Operation Homefront to support military families.

"I'm always looking for a place to throw my spare change and thought this racing bank was just about perfect," Petty said. "Really, this is all about supporting military families through Eckrich's partnership with our race team and Operation Homefront. We've always been a family and race team that wants to give back to the people who sacrifice so much for us. Hopefully the fans will keep filling up this bank as a simple way to say, 'thanks' to all our military families."

Almirola carried the colors and logos of Eckrich and Operation Homefront on his Sprint Cup Series car last weekend for the first time this season and he also hosted a military family as guests of Eckrich and the race team.

This marks the first time the Eckrich colors have adorned the famous No. 43 Ford.

"We are excited and proud to begin our Sprint Cup Series season with Richard Petty Motorsports and Aric Almirola this weekend," said Charles Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group. "And what better way to start than with the unveiling of this one-of-a-kind bank. We value our relationships with the Petty race organization, Operation Homefront and America's military families. This bank will allow more people to get involved and show their appreciation."