CONCORD, N.C. – Aric Almirola revealed Monday that he will retire following the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series season.
The driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing made the announcement to his team at the Stewart-Haas Racing shop Monday morning. He also released a video on social media detailing his decision.
“I truly enjoy driving race cars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Almirola. “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.”
Smithfield Foods officials also announced Monday that the brand will continue to serve as Almirola’s primary sponsor ahead of his final season in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“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 has raced at the top level of NASCAR since 2007. He contested his first full NASCAR Cup Series season in 2012 when he joined Richard Petty Motorsports. In 2014 he earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in a rain-shortened event at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
He departed Richard Petty Motorsports at the conclusion of the 2017 season, the same year he suffered a back injury in a crash at Kansas Speedway that caused him to miss seven races. He ended up joining Stewart-Haas Racing, where he would enjoy the best years of his career.
His first year with Stewart-Haas Racing was his best. He earned a win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and finished a career-best fifth in the final NASCAR Cup Series standings. He added a third NASCAR Cup Series win last year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
In 388 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Almirola has three victories, 26 top-five and 84 top-10 finishes.
The decision to retire, Almirola says, will give him time to focus on spending time with his wife, Janice, and two children.
“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.”
The news of Almirola’s retirement comes less than a week after Stewart-Haas Racing announced the signing of Ryan Preece as a reserve driver. The team has not announced who will replace Almirola for the 2023 season.