Aric Almirola confirmed what has been speculated by many, announcing Friday afternoon that he would return for the 2023 NASCAR season and beyond with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Almirola, 38, previously announced his intentions to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season. However, he changed his mind and will now pilot the No. 10 car for at least more seasons at NASCAR’s top level of racing.
It will mark the sixth consecutive season the 38-year-old driver has spent at Stewart-Haas Racing. There is a lot of familiarity for both sides as the partnership will now continue for two more seasons.
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Details on Aric Almirola’s NASCAR career to this point
Almirola has been through a long and winding journey since he started his NASCAR career running on a part-time basis in the NASCAR Truck Series for the 2005 season. It turned into a full-time ride in 2006.
Almirola joined Spears Motorsports for the 2006 season in the Truck Series as it represented a development program for Joe Gibbs Racing. He saw minimal success with only three top-10 finishes and a 21.4 average finish.
- Aric Almirola stats (career): Three wins, 28 top-five finishes, 91 top-10 finishes
After the 2006 season, Almirola moved to a part-time driver across all three series with a total of 27 starts. The 38-year-old driver was most notable in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with one victory, two top-5 finishes, and six top-10 finishes.
Almirola took an even bigger step back as he only ran 13 total races with 12 of those events coming in the Cup Series during the 2008 season as a part-time driver for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
He only ran 12 races between the Cup and Xfinity Series during the 2009 season but re-emerged in the Truck Series for 16 races with Billy Ballew Motorsports. It was a breakout year with seven top-5 finishes and 10 top-10 finishes.
The 2009 season finished on a high note and Almirola was now full-time in the NASCAR Truck Series for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Almirola finished with two wins, 11 top-5 finishes, and 21 top-10 finishes after a second-place finish in the standings.
A very impressive 2010 season led to a full-time opportunity with JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Almirola compiled seven top-5 finishes and 18 top-10 finishes with a fourth-place finish in the standings.
Then, the Florida native was tabbed as the driver of the No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola won his first career Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway in his third season.
The 38-year-old driver continued with Richard Petty Motorsports until a back injury happened in 2017 during a NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway. Almirola left the organization at the season’s end and joined Stewart-Haas Racing.
Almirola’s first year with Stewart-Haas Racing was the best of his career with one win, four top-5 finishes, 17 top-10 finishes, and a fifth-place finish in the point standings. He had the playoffs his first four years at Stewart-Haas Racing.
This season, Aric Almirola sits 18th in the point standings and must win at Daytona International Speedway to continue his streak of four playoff appearances. Now, the Florida native has another two years at gaining more success.
Aric Almirola’s return changes the future at Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart-Haas Racing, like many other teams, likely expected Almirola to stay retired but talks between every party changed that scenario. The team now faces the likelihood of returning its lineup for a third consecutive season.
Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe, and Cole Custer are all piloting entries in the NASCAR Cup Series. There have been rumors about Custer’s departure from the No. 41 car but those might have been squashed last week.
The organization has Ryan Preece waiting for an opportunity and the organization could slip him into the No. 41 car if they are adamant about making a change. However, it seems likely that we will see another year of the same lineup.
The end of the 2023 season could see massive change as Harvick could retire and Custer could be gone if his performance does not improve over this period of time.
Either way, Aric Almirola’s return certainly fills a hole that was left empty by his intentions to retire. It’s one more opportunity to go race for wins and a potential NASCAR Cup Series championship.