Over the past few years it has become the practice among full time drivers in NASCAR to announce retirements instead of simply driving off into the sunset.
The latest driver to announce an impending retirement is Aric Almirola.
With less than a month before the start of the 2022 NASCAR season, Almirola announced that this would be his final season as a full time driver. Almirola currently drives the number 10 Stewart-Haas Racing car.
Almirola made the announcement with a a video on YouTube. He spoke on the decision saying, “I truly enjoy driving race cars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing. But to be the best in this business, you’ve got to be selfish, and for the last 37 years, my life has always revolved around me and what I needed to do.”
Noting that he has a wife and children; the Florida native added, “I want to be present. I want to be the best husband and father, and that to me means more than being a race-car driver. So, it’s one more year where I’m all-in on racing, where we’ll do whatever it takes to compete at the highest level. But when the season is over, I’ll be ready to wave goodbye. I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s time for the next chapter of my life.”
Almirola concluded, “It’s been a great ride. I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination and I honestly have no regrets. Do I wish I would’ve won more races? Sure, and there’s still an opportunity this year. Do I wish I would’ve won a championship? Sure, and I’ve got a lot of drive to make that happen this year. I’m a competitive person. I want to win and I want to be a champion, but at the end of the day, I know that those things mean way less than being there for my family.”
He began with NASCAR as a part time driver in 2007 and became a full time driver in 2012 driving for Richard Petty Motorsports before moving on to SHR.
SHR co-owner Tony Stewart spoke on Almirola saying, “I’ve watched Aric develop into a really good race-car driver and it was a proud moment when we were able to bring him to Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s really delivered for our race team and for Smithfield, always putting in maximum effort. I know he wants to go out on a high note and we’re going to give him all the resources to succeed. Stewart added, “that being said, we also want him to enjoy this season. Aric is a great husband and father, and this year will bring a lot of cool moments that he’ll be able to share with his family. He’s earned this opportunity to go out on his terms.”
President and CEO of Smithfield Foods – Almirola’s primary sponsor – Shane Smith also spoke on Almirola saying, “it’s been an absolute pleasure to have Aric as part of our Smithfield Family for more than a decade now. In addition to being an incredibly talented racer and devoted family man, Aric embodies Smithfield’s values and has embraced our commitment to do good for our customers, employees and communities. He will always be family. We wish him all the best in his next chapter and look forward to another great year with him and Stewart-Haas Racing.”
Almirola has won three Cup Series races – at Daytona, Talladega, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway – with six top fives and 19 top tens.
feature photo credit: Stewart-Haas Racing Shop (10516843266).jpg