Will Almirola stay, or will he go?

MADISON, ILLINOIS - JUNE 04: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Built Ford Proud Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2022 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Almirola is the defending winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race and there has been a lot of recent speculation as to whether the 38-year old may change his mind about retiring at the end of the 2022 season as he had planned.

“It is humbling to have people keep questioning me about it,’’ said Almirola, who is ranked 18th in the championship and likely needing a victory to secure a 2022 Playoff position.

“I have given it thought but I don’t have anything new to say really as of right now. I think for us and for our race team, my focus is to get through these next few weeks and try to win a race to get our way into the Playoffs.

“I would like to do that here this weekend like we did last year. As far as anything that goes past this year, I don’t have anything new to say than what I’ve said previously.’’

After adjusting for race winners – Almirola trails 16th place Christopher Bell by 42 points in that final Playoff transfer position. A three-race winner in his 11-year, full-time NASCAR Cup Series career, Almirola has had a pair of top-5 finishes and six top-10 runs in 2022.

Chase Briscoe’s win at Phoenix in March is the only victory for the Stewart-Haas Racing organization this season and he’s the only driver among the four SHR racers with a secured spot in the Playoffs.