Almirola retirement plans in doubt

Rusty Jarrett/NKP/Motorsport Images

Almirola retirement plans in doubt

NASCAR

Almirola retirement plans in doubt

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Aric Almirola made his intentions to retire from the NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the season known in January, but it seems those plans are no longer set in stone.

Rumors have begun in the garage that Almirola might not be going anywhere. It’s caused such a stir that Almirola is now having to address the chatter with the decision-makers at Stewart-Haas Racing and the continued questions about his future have him acknowledging he’ll need to give some more thought to what’s next.

But for now, Almirola has nothing new to add to the conversation.

“It’s humbling to have people keep questioning me about it,” Almirola said at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he is the defending race winner. “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 so we can get our way into the playoffs. I’d like to do that here this weekend like we did last year.

“But as far as anything goes past this year, I don’t have anything new to say than what I’ve said previously.”

Almirola, 38, has been a full-time Cup Series driver since 2012 with three career wins. He has driven the No.10 Ford for Stewart-Haas Since 2018, where he’s won twice (Talladega in 2018 and New Hampshire last year) and earned a playoff berth the last five seasons.

However, Almirola’s time in the NASCAR national series dates back to 2005, when he made four starts in the Camping World Truck Series, followed by select starts in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2006.

Almirola has had a long career filled with ups and downs. But in announcing his initial decision to step away, he cited family. Almirola’s son Alex turns 10 years old this year and daughter Abby turns 9. Spending more time with his children is a priority and Almirola isn’t sure that running a full 38 races in NASCAR is something he wants to continue doing, and being a part-time driver isn’t as easy as it may sound.

“I think there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things to juggle in relation to that,” Almirola said. “That’s a hard sell, I’ve learned. Teams and the sponsor want consistency and for me, it’s really hard to wrap your head around the full-out commitment of what this sport takes.

“I’m 38 years old and have been doing this for a long time. I’m not to the point where most of the other guys have retired. Most retire in their early to mid-40s, but for me, I feel like I also had kids younger than most of those guys before I did.

“Harvick and Jimmie [Johnson] had kids in their 30s. I had kids in my late 20s. I know that Alex is going to be 10 in a month and a half. Abby is going to be nine shortly after that. I’ve just witnessed it with friends of ours that have older kids. When they turn 16 and get car keys, all they want to do is be with their friends. They just ask mom and dad for money and what time curfew is.

“I just know that I have such a short window to be involved in their life in a meaningful way where they want me around. I will always be involved in their life, but there is only a short time where they actually want me to be involved, and I just don’t want to miss that opportunity or that window.

“I think as I evaluate where to go from here and give it real thought, their opinion matters to me because I want it to be something to where it is a family decision. Originally, I made that decision based on my family, and that won’t change going forward.”

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