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The 2022 season will be Aric Almirola's last in NASCAR.
The driver of the No. 10 car at Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday that he's retiring at the end of the season. Almirola, 37, has won three races across 388 Cup Series starts.
“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 told the Associated Press. “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 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's retirement announcement came on the same day that primary sponsor Smithfield said it had renewed its deal to sponsor Almirola's car. Smithfield has been Almirola's sponsor since he was at Richard Petty Motorsports in 2012.
The company was a massive reason why Almirola moved from RPM to Stewart-Haas ahead of the 2018 season. Almirola won at Talladega in his first season with SHR and finished fifth in the points standings. That season has turned out to be his best season in the Cup Series by far — his second-best finish is 14th in the standings in 2019.
Almirola was 15th in 2021 after qualifying for the playoffs with a summer win at New Hampshire. That win got Almirola into the playoffs despite a terrible season to date. He was 27th in the standings entering that July race at New Hampshire and his average finish of 19.9 was the worst of his SHR career.
Stewart-Haas Racing also now has an intriguing potential in-house replacement for Almirola in 2023. The team recently signed Ryan Preece to serve as the team's reserve driver for Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe. Preece, 30, will run a part-time schedule across all three of NASCAR's series in 2022 after running full-time in the Cup Series for JTG-Daugherty Racing for the past three seasons.