Stewart-Haas Racing made it official Wednesday announcing they have signed Aric Almirola to join its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lineup in 2018 as the driver of the No. 10.
His previous team, Richard Petty Motorsports said last month that Almirola would be replaced with driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace starting next season. Almirola missed several races earlier this season after suffering a back injury; Wallace subbed for Almirola in the No. 43.
The SHR team announced last month that Danica Patrick, current driver of the No. 10 would not be returning next year.
“I’ve known Aric since 2004 and have always been impressed with him on the racetrack,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas. “I’ve raced with him and seen him mature into a really good racecar driver. He can compete for wins here at Stewart-Haas Racing and help our other drivers compete for wins. He’s an excellent fit for this team and for Smithfield.”
Almirola has won races in each of NASCAR’s top-three national touring series and is currently in his sixth full season in the premier NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola has one NASCAR Cup Series victory, three NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins.
“This is the opportunity every racer wants,” Almirola said. “Stewart-Haas Racing is an experienced organization with a lot of depth, great technical support from Ford, and staffed with racers from top to bottom. They lean on each other, challenge each other and make each other better. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.
“I’ve known Tony Stewart since our time together at Joe Gibbs Racing. I know what he expects and he knows my commitment. I can’t thank him and Smithfield enough for believing in me and providing this opportunity.”
Smithfield Foods will also be joining the team as primary sponsor. The company announced in September that it was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports.
“This is a great moment for Aric, and Smithfield is very happy to be a part of it because it’s a great opportunity for our company,” said John Pauley, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Smithfield. “Obviously, we strongly believe in Aric’s ability and that of Stewart-Haas Racing, and those abilities transcend the racetrack. They want to consistently run up front and contend for wins, but they’re also very interested in helping us win in the marketplace. This is a strong partnership with outgoing personalities who are driven to succeed.”