Aric Almirola has reversed course on his plans to retire and has announced that he will continue to race full-time with Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series next season.
But that is just part of the puzzle.
Almirola and sponsor Smithfield will not only both return to Stewart-Haas, but with a new multiyear agreement that begins in 2023. Smithfield remains the primary sponsor on Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang for the “largest allotment of races” since both joined Stewart-Haas in 2018.
“I’ve learned a lot this year and perhaps the biggest learning was to never say never,” Almirola said. “I came into this year ready to soak everything up and I have. I already knew I had the coolest job in the world, but being with my family and being there for [wife] Janice and [children] Alex and Abby was really important. My desire to compete and win never wavered, but I didn’t want it to come at the expense of my family. We found a way to accommodate both, and I’ve never been happier. Smithfield is a big part of that.”
Almirola had previously announced in January his intention to retire from competition at year’s end. It was Smithfield that approached Almirola about reconsidering his plans.
“They’ve been a part of my life for 11 years and really my entire NASCAR Cup Series career,” said Almirola. “They’re family to me. And, of course, it’s always nice to be wanted. Smithfield wanted me to continue representing them. Stewart-Haas Racing wanted me to continue driving their race cars. Everything just aligned, and it’s something we all embraced.
“The original decision to step away from full-time racing at the end of the season was a family one and so is this decision. Janice, Alex, and Abby are just as excited as I am to continue racing the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang.”
Smithfield has sponsored Almirola since 2012 when he drove for Richard Petty.
“Aric has been a part of the Smithfield family for more than a decade and we’re happy to have him back in the No. 10 Smithfield Fiord Mustang,” said Shane Smith, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods. “Just as Aric discovered new ways to enjoy this sport, Smithfield did too. I was at this year’s Daytona 500 with him and it was electric. NASCAR is exactly where we need to be. It’s where our customers are and no one reaches them better than Aric Almirola. He’s an incredibly talented racer and devoted family man who embodies Smithfield’s values. From day one, Aric has embraced our commitment to do good for our customers, employees, and communities. This is a reinvestment in Aric, in Stewart-Haas Racing, and in NASCAR.”
At Stewart-Haas, Almirola has two wins and finished a career-best fifth in the standings in 2018. Almirola was reunited with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer this season, with whom he previously had a great rapport at Petty.
“All of us at SHR are very happy to have Aric back in our Smithfield Ford Mustang,” said team co-owner Tony Stewart. “I’ve always admired Aric because he’s always working to better himself, to find a better way. This year is proof of that.
“We’re in a tough sport, in terms of the competition and in terms of the commitment it takes to compete at this level. Even with all that, Aric has found a way to compete and enjoy life. That sounds simple, but achieving it is hard, yet Aric makes it look simple. It’s one of his many attributes, and it’s one of the many reasons why he’s such a good fit for Smithfield and for us. I’m proud of him and proud to extend our partnership with Smithfield.”