Nascar Veteran Aric Almirola Set To Retire After The 2022 Cup Series Season

Aric Almirola, who has been a full-time Cup Series driver since 2012, announced he is retiring from Cup Series competition at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

The 38-year-old driver for Stewart-Haas Racing said his decision was easy, wanting to spend more time with his family.

“I want to be present,” Almirola said. “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.

“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.”

Smithfield Foods, which started working with Almirola in his first full-time season as a Cup series driver in 2012 with Richard Petty Motorsports, will be the lead primary sponsor for SHR’s No. 10 car in his final season. Thus far, the pairing have won three races together, including a walk-off win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last July.

Notably, Stewart-Haas Racing announced last week that Ryan Preece will join the organization as a “reserve driver.” Preece, who spent the last three seasons with JTG Daugherty Racing, will compete in 12 events across all three of Nascar’s top divisions in 2022.

But for now, the focus is on Almirola, who aims to make the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

“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,” team 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.

“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.”

As Almirola enters his final season, he has three career Cup Series wins.

Almirola started his career with Joe Gibbs Racing, which he competed with from 2005-07. He earnhed his first Xfinity Series win at the Milwaukee Mile in 2007, starting the race and dominating from the pole until Denny Hamlin, who was supposed to start the race and didn’t make it to the track on time, jumped in the seat and closed out the victory.

Almirola hen spent time with Dale Earnhardt Inc./Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and JR Motorsports before moving to Richard Petty Motorsports. He also finished runner-up to Todd Bodine in the Camping World Truck Series standings in 2010 with Billy Ballew Motorsports.

From 2012-18, Almirola piloted the famed No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports, winning one race for the team in 2014 at Daytona International Speedway. In 2017, Almirola broke his back in a Kansas Speedway crash, which led to Bubba Wallace replacing him for four races and eventually becoming the full-time driver for RPM.

Over the years, Almirola made a name for himself as Nascar’s lone Cuban racer. He is the first person of Cuban descent to win a Nascar race, setting an example for others who want to become racecar drivers.