Aric Almirola to drive the No. 10 next year for Stewart-Haas Racing

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As expected, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday that Aric Almirola will drive the No. 10 car next season.

He takes over the ride Danica Patrick has had since the 2013 season.

Smithfield will be the primary sponsor for the full season.

“This is the opportunity every racer wants,” Almirola said in a statement. “Stewart-Haas Racing is an experienced organization with a lot of depth, great technical support from Ford, and staffed with racers from top to bottom. They lean on each other, challenge each other and make each other better. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.

“I’ve known Tony Stewart since our time together at Joe Gibbs Racing. I know what he expects and he knows my commitment. I can’t thank him and Smithfield enough for believing in me and providing this opportunity.”

Almirola, 33, joins SHR after six seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports. He won once with the organization, capturing the Daytona race in July 2014.

Almirola missed seven races this season after suffering a back injury in a crash at Kansas Speedway in May. His best Cup finish this year is fourth in the Daytona 500 and at Talladega in the spring. He finished in the top five in each of the three restrictor-plate races he ran this season (he missed the July Daytona race while recovering from his injury).

With Almirola signed, Stewart-Haas Racing’s lineup for next season is closer to being set. Kevin Harvick, who will race for a championship in Miami, will be back in the No. 4 car. Clint Bowyer returns in the No. 14. The team has not announced who will be in the No. 41 car.

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