Aric Almirola has had a couple of trying years in the NASCAR Cup Series, and many speculated that last year would have been his final full-time Cup season.
Fans can put it to bed now, as the three-time Cup series race winner announced this past weekend at Martinsville that he will not be back with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2024.
That wasn't the only news in Almirola's announcement, as Smithfield Foods, his long-time sponsor, will be completely leaving the sport. Though he won't be a full-time Cup competitor anymore, Almirola hasn't ruled out an occasional drive in the future.
Almirola broke the news in a post on social media.
— Aric Almirola (@Aric_Almirola) October 28, 2023
"After much prayer, consideration, and conversations with my family, I'm ready for the next adventure," Almirola said.
He thanked everyone at SHR for his accomplishments with the organization and was thankful for 12 years with Smithfield Foods as a sponsor.
Team co-owner Tony Stewart later shared his own post and, according to Jim Utter from motorsport.com, thanked Almirola for his hard work and determination while piloting the No. 10 Smithfield Ford for the last six seasons.
"I'm proud of everything Aric has accomplished and am especially proud that his last six years have been with Stewart-Haas Racing. He and Smithfield formed an incredible partnership that resonated on and off the racetrack, and a lot of that is a testament to Aric," Stewart said.
Stewart continued wishing nothing but the best for Almirola and his family in their next adventures.
"He always puts forth maximum effort and he makes everyone around him better. Simply put, he's a great person—an awesome dad to Alex and Abby and an exceptional husband to Janice. I know all of them really well and am genuinely happy for their next steps together as a family," Stewart said.
Stewart later clarified that SHR will remain a four-car team with Ryan Preece, Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry are already locked into their respective cars for next season. It remains to be seen who will take over the No. 10 Ford, but speculation surrounding the possibility of the previously suspended Noah Gragson is starting to grow.
No matter who the next driver is, Almirola and Smithfield are a major loss for a team that lacks sponsorship, especially after Busch Light announced that it is leaving the team for Ross Chastain and Trackhouse Racing in 2024.
Just like Kevin Harvick, who announced his retirement earlier this year, Almirola has one more shot to pull off a walk-off win.
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