Almirola returning to Stewart-Haas

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 16: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola announced Friday that he will be back competing for Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that team sponsor Smithfield Foods has re-signed for a multi-year deal.  Almirola said the formal agreement to continue driving the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was only finalized this week, despite reports otherwise.

Almirola has carried Smithfield branding every season of his 12-year NASCAR Cup Series career—no matter which team he drove for or who was CEO leading the Smithfield corporation at the time.

“I know that doesn’t come as a surprise to many of you, but I put a lot of thought and a lot of discussing it with (wife) Janice and the kids and ultimately, the subject continued to get broached from the race team and Smithfield,” Almirola said.

“And through all of that dialogue, mainly with the race team and Smithfield, it was very evident that not only did they want me back, but that Smithfield wanted to increase their marketing campaign around NASCAR and around me.’’

Almirola, who scored his first NASCAR Cup Series win in the 2014 Daytona summer race, originally announced he would retire from full-time competition following the 2022 season. But he says Smithfield lured him back, hoping to continue their longstanding partnership at the SHR team.

While the brand has a long-term deal with the team, Almirola said he has yet to determine how long he will commit to racing fulltime, however, he said his children—nine-year Alex and eight-year old Abby—were elated at the news that dad was going to continue driving the race car.

And Almirola said he’s learned to balance his job as a race car driver, as a sponsor spokesman and as a husband and father—even coaching his son’s baseball games during the week.

Essentially, the situation just all worked out. “Smithfield has been the primary sponsor on my race car my entire Cup career and so to continue to have their support and their backing is just an awesome feeling to be their guy and to be wanted,” Almirola said.