A new report from Motorsport.com‘s Jim Utter suggests that Aric Almirola will actually return to Stewart-Haas Racing, despite announcing his retirement following the 2022 season back in January.
The report, which cites numerous sources, states that sponsor Smithfield Foods will return with Almirola next season.
When approached for a comment or statement regarding the report from Motorsport, a representative from True Speed Communication responded with, “Stewart-Haas Racing does not comment on the status of its contracts, be it driver or partner related.”
On Wednesday, Greg Zipadelli, Chief Competition Officer for Stewart-Haas Racing, spoke to the media and while he didn’t make any 2023 announcements, he said the plan was for Cole Custer to return to the organization and that, “We’re just looking and trying to sort out the No. 10 car at this particular time.”
If indeed Almirola has agreed to return for 2023, that will more than likely fill their entire NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup for next season.
Almirola, who has three-career NASCAR Cup Series wins, moved to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season. Since moving to SHR, Almirola has yet to finish outside the Playoffs cutline, but he sits precariously outside the cutline with just two races remaining.
So far this season, Almirola has two top-five finishes and seven top-10s through the opening 24 races. Almirola sits 16th in the regular season championship standings, but due to 15 different winners this year, Almirola finds himself 18th in the Playoff Grid.
If Almirola can score a win this weekend at Watkins Glen or next weekend at Daytona International Speedway, he’ll likely lock his way into the Playoffs.