NASCAR veteran Aric Almirola to retire at end of 2022 season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR veteran Aric Almirola will retire from competitors at the end of the 2022 season to invest more time with his young household.

Almirola exposed his strategies Monday to the staff members at Stewart-Haas Racing at the exact same time Smithfield Foods revealed its 11th season sponsoring the motorist.

“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,” Almirola stated. “I want to be present. I want to be the best husband and father, and that to me means more than being a racecar driver.

“So it’s another year where I’m all in on racing, where we’ll do whatever it requires to contend at the greatest level. However when the season is over, I’ll be prepared to wave bye-bye. I’ve liked every minute of it, however it’s time for the next chapter of my life.”

Almirola, a Tampa local of Cuban descent, made his NASCAR nationwide series launching in 2005 in the Truck Series. His very first triumph was tape-recorded 2 years later on in the Xfinity Series at Milwaukee, however it was a questionable race: Denny Hamlin, his colleague then at Joe Gibbs Racing, was expected to race the automobile with Almirola simply a fill-in till Hamlin showed up from Cup Series practice kept in Sonoma, California.

Almirola certified the automobile, led 43 laps and remained in 3rd when Hamlin showed up and changed Almirola in the seat. Hamlin crossed the goal in very first however a mad Almirola was scored the winner due to the fact that he was the motorist who began the race.

Almirola made his Cup launching with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2007 however relocated to Dale Earnhardt Inc. later on that season. He ended up being a full-time Cup motorist with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2012 — the exact same year he partnered with Smithfield — and scored his very first Cup triumph 2 seasons later on in the rain-shortened July race at Daytona.

Almirola and Smithfield relocated to SHR in 2018, and Almirola has actually made the playoffs in all 4 seasons driving the No. 10. He has 3 profession Cup wins and completed a career-best 5th in the 2018 standings.

“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,” said Shane Smith, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods.

The pandemic has cut NASCAR’s schedule to mostly one-day events the past two years — down from full three-day weekends for decades — and allowed drivers to live a more traditional life and attend extracurricular events with their families. Almirola, who turns 38 in March, has a son and daughter.

Almirola said he made the decision to retire with his wife, pondering if he could afford to retire young and that he’d regret not stepping away to spend time with his children before they are grown.

“The answer I kept coming up with is that I can’t afford not to,” he said. “We’re going to have a 10-year-old in Alex and a 9-year-old in Abby, and I’m going to have a short window with them while they still think Dad is cool. I want to be there for them and to be a part of the things they’re interested in.

“Before we know it, they’re going to have car keys and they’re going to be running off with their friends, doing the same things I did when I was 16 or 17.”

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.