DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Aric Almirola’s retirement tour lasted all of 25 races. On Friday from the Daytona International Speedway, Almirola confirmed that he’ll not only return for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season but will also do so in 2024 as well in part of a new multi-year deal to remain in the No. 10 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Back on Jan. 10, Almirola announced that he would retire at season end. This was supposed to be his 11th and final full time season.
That now changes as he’ll have at least 2 more years ahead including a 6th season with SHR in 2023. He signed the deal this past week he said.
The 38-year old driver said when he initially was going to retire that he was trying to find a better family life balance. His kids were getting older and he wanted to spend more time with them outside of a racetrack. However, that has changed as they’ve found a better way to do so in 2022.
“I’ve learned a lot this year and perhaps the biggest learning was to never say never,” Almirola said in a team release. “I came into this year ready to soak everything up, and I have. I already knew I had the coolest job in the world, but being with my family and being there for Janice and Alex and Abby was really important. My desire to compete and win never wavered, but I didn’t want it to come at the expense of family. We found a way to accommodate both and I’ve never been happier.”
The extension with Smithfield continues one of the longest-running partnerships in the Cup Series garage. The Virginia-based food company first connected with the driver in 2012 during his tenure with Richard Petty Motorsports, and that relationship continued when Almirola moved to the No. 10 Ford in 2018.
“Smithfield is a big part of that,” Almirola said. “They’ve been a part of my life for 11 years and, really, my entire NASCAR Cup Series career. They’re family to me. And, of course, it’s always nice to be wanted. Smithfield wanted me to continue representing them. Stewart-Haas Racing wanted me to continue driving their race cars. Everything just aligned and it’s something we all embraced.”
Almirola is a three-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, with all of his victories coming during his time with SHR. His most recent triumph came in July 2021 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
This season, Almirola ranks 18th in the Cup Series standings, and he will need to win Saturday night to reach the 16-driver postseason grid. His immediate future with playoff eligibility is uncertain, but his long-term future is secure.
“All of us at SHR are very happy to have Aric back in our Smithfield Ford Mustang,” said team co-owner Tony Stewart. “I’ve always admired Aric because he’s always working to better himself, to find a better way. This year is proof of that. We’re in a tough sport, in terms of the competition and in terms of the commitment it takes to compete at this level. Even with all that, Aric has found a way to compete and enjoy life. That sounds simple, but achieving it is hard, yet Aric makes it look simple. It’s one of his many attributes, and it’s one of the many reasons why he’s such a good fit for Smithfield and for us. I’m proud of him and proud to extend our partnership with Smithfield.”