DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Aric Almirola has signed a multi-year agreement to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing after stating in January that he planned for to retire from full-time Cup racing after this season.
“It just feels right,” Almirola said Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
Sponsor Smithfield also has signed a multi-year agreement to remain with Stewart-Haas Racing. Next season will be the 12th consecutive season Smithfield has partnered with Almirola. Smithfield will serve as the anchor partner and have the largest allotment of races on the car since joining SHR with Almirola in 2018.
Almirola said the deal was finalized this week.
Almirola’s announcement Friday is not a surprise. The 38-year-old had hinted in July of a return to the series.
“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 (wife) 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.
“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.”
Next season will mark Almirola’s 12th full-time season in Cup — and sixth at Stewart-Haas Racing. He has three career series wins. Almirola needs to win Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock) to advance to the playoffs for fifth consecutive season.
“Aric has been a part of the Smithfield family for more than a decade and we’re very happy to have him back in the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang, said Shane Smith, president and CEO, Smithfield Foods, in a statement:
“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.”
Due to local programming, the Cup Series race on Saturday will air on WBAL 11.2 MeTV in Baltimore, WKCF in Orlando, KTVK in Phoenix and WMOR in Tampa. Check local listings in Lancaster/Harrisburg (Pa.), Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Viewers in all markets can live stream the race on Peacock, NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app.