Photo courtesy of Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Aric Almirola announced Friday at Daytona International Speedway that he will return to the NASCAR Cup Series full-time for the 2023 season with Stewart-Haas Racing.
It will be the 38-year old’s 12th full-time Cup Series season and Smithfield Foods will continue to partner with Almirola as they’ve done through his entire Cup career.
The release states that the deal with Almirola and Smithfield is for multiple years beginning next year but Almirola said in a press conference that he will re-visit his future throughout next season.
“I’ve learned a lot this year and perhaps the biggest learning was to never say never,” Almirola said in a statement. “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 Janice and 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 family. We found a way to accommodate both and I’ve never been happier.
“Smithfield is a big part of that. They’ve been a part of my life for 11 years and, really, my entire NASCAR Cup Series career. 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 racecars. Everything just aligned and it’s something we all embraced.”
Almirola has three career wins in NASCAR’s premier series. His first came in the 2014 edition of the Daytona summer race that was shortened due to rain. His other wins came in the 2018 playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway and at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last year.
Heading into Saturday night’s regular-season finale (7 p.m., NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports App), Almirola will need to win to advance to the 16-driver postseason as he sits 194 points below the cutline.
“All of us at SHR are very happy to have Aric back in our Smithfield Ford Mustang,” SHR co-owner Tony Stewart said. “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.”