NASCAR driver Aric Almirola to retire, ready "for next chapter"

NASCAR Cup Series veteran Aric Almirola has decided to retire following the completion of the 2022 season.

Listen to this article

Almirola, 37, will complete the 2022 season driving the No. 10 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing with longtime sponsor Smithfield Foods and then step away following the No. 6 season finale at Phoenix.

“I truly enjoy driving race cars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing,” Almirola said. “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 race car 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.”

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Smithfield

Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Smithfield

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Almirola made his 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 – 2018 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and 2021 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“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.”

Read Also:

Almirola and his wife, Janice, have two children – a boy named Alex and daughter Abby – and decided it was time to focus more on their family.

“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.”

A winner across all three divisions

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.

Throughout his NASCAR careers, Almirola has won three Cup races, three Xfinity Series races and has two wins in Trucks.

“I’ve watched Aric develop into a really good race car driver and it was a proud moment when we were able to bring him to Stewart-Haas Racing,” SHR co-owner Tony 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.”

Almirola said he has “no regrets” from his NASCAR career.

“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,” he said.

“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 race car 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.”

shares
comments

Related video

Renee Gracie considering US racing options, including NASCAR
Previous article

Renee Gracie considering US racing options, including NASCAR

Next article

Spire Motorsports hires Josh Bilicki for the 2022 Cup season

Spire Motorsports hires Josh Bilicki for the 2022 Cup season
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021