Aric Almirola set to replace Danica Patrick at SHR in 2018
Aric Almirola is set to get the biggest opportunity yet of his NASCAR career.
Almirola, who is in his last season driving for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, will be the new driver of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Ford team next season, Motorsport.com has learned.
Almirola, 33, would replace Danica Patrick, who announced in September she would not be returning to SHR next year in part due to lack of sponsorship.
SHR on Thursday issued a media advisory for a news conference next Wednesday at its headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C., in which it will unveil its newest Cup series driver. Sources familiar with the announcement confirmed Almirola would be the driver.
SHR officials did not immediately return a request for comment.
In recent interviews with multiple media outlets – some as recently as last weekend – Almirola has said his 2018 plans were not yet set.
The full-time ride at SHR would provide Almirola his first chance to compete for the Cup series championship with one of the series’ top-tier teams.
He has made 241 starts in the Cup series since beginning part-time in 2007 with Joe Gibbs Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. He has one career victory, 11 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes and has one won pole.
The majority of his Cup career – nearly seven seasons – has been spent at RPM. He missed seven races earlier this season after suffering a back injury in a violent crash in May at Kansas Speedway.
At the time of his injury, Almirola was working on a fairly respectable season. He was 20th in the series standings, slightly better than he was the year before and RPM was back to being a single-car operation.
Since his return, Almirola’s best finish is fifth at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last month.
In September, Smithfield Foods – longtime sponsor of RPM and Almirola – announced it would move to SHR in 2018 and neither the company nor SHR indicated at the time what driver Smithfield would sponsor.
It remains unclear whether Patrick’s current No. 10 team will remain with Almirola next season. Sources said that decision may not come until after the 2017 season is complete.
Almirola has also made 100 starts in the Xfinity Series and 78 in Trucks. He is credited with three wins in Xfinity, including one this season at Talladega, and two in Trucks, most recently in 2010.
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|Drivers||Aric Almirola , Danica Patrick|