Aric Almirola To Retire At End Of 2022 Season NASCAR Cup Series Season


(Press release from Stewart-Haas Racing)

Aric Almirola (Photo: Courtesy Stewart-Haas Racing)

Smithfield Foods To Continue as Anchor Partner for No. 10 Team

The 2022 season will be Aric Almirola’s 15th and final year as a NASCAR Cup Series driver. The 37-year-old racer will retire after the season finale Nov. 6 at Phoenix Raceway.

Longtime sponsor Smithfield Foods will continue as an anchor partner of Almirola and the No. 10 team of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), with 2022 marking the brand’s 11th year with Almirola and its fifth with SHR.

“I truly enjoy driving racecars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang. “But to be the best in this business, you’ve got to be selfish, and for the last 37 years my life has always revolved around me and what I needed to do.

“I want to be present. I want to be the best husband and father, and that to me means more than being a racecar driver. So, it’s one more year where I’m all in on racing, where we’ll do whatever it takes to compete at the highest level. But when the season is over, I’ll be ready to wave goodbye. I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s time for the next chapter of my life.”

Almirola made his NASCAR Cup Series debut on March 11, 2007 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, three days before his 23rd birthday. He teamed up with Smithfield in 2012 while at Richard Petty Motorsports for his first full year in Cup. The Smithfield/Almirola partnership is now one of the most tenured in NASCAR, and since the duo joined SHR in 2018, Almirola has represented Smithfield in the NASCAR Playoffs every year and scored two wins – Oct. 14, 2018 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and July 18, 2021 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to have Aric as part of our Smithfield Family for more than a decade now,” said Shane Smith, president and CEO, Smithfield Foods. “In addition to being an incredibly talented racer and devoted family man, Aric embodies Smithfield’s values and has embraced our commitment to do good for our customers, employees and communities. He will always be family. We wish him all the best in his next chapter and look forward to another great year with him and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Almirola’s decision to make the 2022 season his last was pragmatic. The Tampa, Florida-native is a husband and father of two, and as he and his wife, Janice, looked at life beyond racetracks on Sundays, Almirola determined that stepping back from racing would allow him to take new steps with his children as they pursue dreams of their own.

“Janice and I have spent many nights talking about it and the questions are the same as anyone else would have when you’re going to stop doing something. Can I afford it? The answer I kept coming up with is that I can’t afford not to. Will I regret it? I think I’ll regret it if I don’t,” Almirola said.

“At the end of this season, we’re going to have a 10-year-old in Alex and a nine-year-old in Abby, and I’m going to have a short window with them while they still think Dad is cool. I want to be there for them and to be a part of the things they’re interested in. Before we know it, they’re going to have car keys and they’re going to be running off with their friends, doing the same things I did when I was 16 or 17.”

Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, first met Almirola in 2004 when they were teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart was already a NASCAR Cup Series champion with the first of his three titles in hand (2002, 2005 and 2011) while Almirola was just beginning his NASCAR career after being selected as one of the first two drivers for Gibbs’ diversity program.

“I’ve watched Aric develop into a really good racecar driver and it was a proud moment when we were able to bring him to Stewart-Haas Racing,” Stewart said. “He’s really delivered for our race team and for Smithfield, always putting in maximum effort. I know he wants to go out on a high note and we’re going to give him all the resources to succeed.

“That being said, we also want him to enjoy this season. Aric is a great husband and father, and this year will bring a lot of cool moments that he’ll be able to share with his family. He’s earned this opportunity to go out on his terms.”

Almirola’s best seasons have come with SHR. He finished a career-high fifth in points in 2018 and scored a career-best 18 top-10 finishes in 2020.

“It means a lot to be able to walk away on my own terms. It’s been a great ride. I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination and I honestly have no regrets,” Almirola said.

“Do I wish I would’ve won more races? Sure, and there’s still an opportunity this year. Do I wish I would’ve won a championship? Sure, and I’ve got a lot of drive to make that happen this year. I’m a competitive person. I want to win and I want to be a champion, but at the end of the day, I know that those things mean way less than being there for my family.

“I made it to the highest level of American motorsports as a professional racecar driver. It’s been amazing, with a lot of ups and downs and everything in between. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I’m ready to go back to being a fan.”

Almirola’s final season kicks off with the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Feb. 5-6 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the official start of the 2022 campaign with the 64th annual Daytona 500 Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.



Comments

  1. Sharpie Fan says

    Could this be a seat opening up for Preece?

  2. RYAN PREECE! I will be sorely disappointed if this does not happen

  3. Yes, the need to spend more time with the family becomes important.

    Statistics: https://www.racing-reference.info/driver/Aric_Almirola/

  4. I agree on Preece unless someone comes along with a bunch of sponsorship.

  5. David Fisher says

    I would imagine this has little to do with wanting family time; more than likely, a “quit-or-be-fired” situation. I will continue to think the Preece announcement was directly related to this, and hope it is Ryan’s ticket to the top 10 in the Cup series.

  6. Go PREECE LIGHTING GO

  7. Certainly don’t know if Amirola is a good driver but if he weren’t why give him a final year?
    SHR was the third best team, Ford the third best manufacturer and the star of the team came in fifth. Then Amirola at 15th, Briscoe and Custer not relevant much at all.
    Maybe it is Amirola’s decision, maybe racing has made him a man of independent means at this stage of his career and maybe Tony Stewart could spend a little more time whipping the team into shape as opposed to starting a brand new NHRA venture.
    Is Preece in line for this open seat I surely don’t know. However if Brisco is coming in 23 and Custer one spot better then Preece in 2021 then Ryan has his work cut out for him this year helping the entire operation up it’s game for 2022.

  8. It’s about time Almirola is going away. Ever since he took over the Spears Manufacturing 75 Truck team that David Starr drove to success Aric has been nothing but, overrated. He one a 2014 rain-shorted July Daytona race where half the fast guys wreck on lap 18. Then, wins Talladega in what 2017? Congrats and he did well at New Hampshire this year but, if that race went all the way Bell would have passed him as Bell was gaining on him rapidly. People only like Almirola because, he was, “kind” well ya but, he was a lovable loser only racing with a top team because, of sponsorship dollars with minimal success. I just hope Ryan Preece gets that ride or the 4… And NOT Hailie “Instagram model and old man Viagra favorite/ Monster Energy Drink personality” Deegan gets it. But, who knows sorry about profits before morals- Capitalism.

  9. coupes4ever says

    Whenever a driver ceases to be competitive these days, he (or she) suddenly decides they need to spend more time with their family. My guess is that Stewart Haas had his gold watch wrapped up by mid season 2021. Nice guy but never made the grade.

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