The 2022 plans for the No. 10 entry of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver Aric Almirola have been surrounded in mystery until today.
Almirola told the AP’s Jenna Fryer that the Florida driver will enter his final season with Stewart-Haas Racing, and retire following the 2022 NASCAR season. The reason? Almirola wishes to spend more time with his family, coming from a driver who has never been shy to show his love and appreciation for being a father.
“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,” Almirola told the AP. “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.
“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.”
Almirola posted a video to his social media channels going more in-depth with his decision.
Almirola joined Stewart-Haas in 2018 in the No. 10 entry, while co-owner Tony Stewart always had a watchful eye on the Florida driver.
“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,” 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.”
Longtime partner Smithfield will also return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2022, entering the 11th season in the relationship of Almirola and the company.
“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,” said Shane Smith, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods.
The 37-year-old has been competing in NASCAR since 2005, scoring eight wins across the NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. With 388 in the Cup Series, Almirola scored his first win in 2014 with Richard Petty Motorsports at a rain-shorted Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. The Florida driver netted his most recent win at Loudon in 2021, leading 25 laps.