Aric Almirola, a 15-year veteran of the NASCAR Cup Series, will not return to his post at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2024, the driver confirmed via a social media statement on Sunday.
The 39-year-old driver has spent the last two years as a hot-button topic at NASCAR's top-level, after deciding to return to the No. 10 Ford Mustang in 2023 - despite earlier announcing his retirement.
"After much prayer, consideration, and conversations with my family, I'm ready for my next adventure," the statement from Almirola reads.
A native of Tampa, Florida, Almirola has spent the last six seasons competing in the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, in which time he has acquired two victories, 18 top-five, and 53 top-10 finishes, along with five poles.
"God turned my childhood dream of being a professional racecar driver into reality, and I'm incredibly grateful," the statement adds. "Grateful for the opportunities, the wins, the celebrations, the struggles, the partnerships and, most of all, the people I've met and the friendships we've made. My family and I have been blessed beyond our wildest imagination because of all that the NASCAR community has to offer."
"As for the future... Proverbs 19:21 [Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the lord that will stand].
The last couple of seasons have been difficult for Almirola and all of Stewart-Haas Racing, as the organization struggles to fully grasp the NextGen car. In the last two seasons, the driver of the No. 10 has scored three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes.
Now, Stewart-Haas Racing will be tasked with finding another brand-new pilot of the No. 10 Ford Mustang, which will ensure that half of the organization's driver lineup will be different from 2023.
Said driver will be joining Josh Berry in the No. 4 Ford Mustang, and returning drivers Chase Briscoe (No. 14) and Ryan Preece (No. 41), as the four-car team's driver lineup for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Smithfield Foods, the long-time partner of Aric Almirola in the NASCAR Cup Series, will be leaving NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2023 season, the brand announced on Friday morning.
In a statement, the brand says: "Smithfield Foods congratulates Aric Almirola on his excellent run with Stewart-Haas Racing. With Aric's decision to explore new opportunities, the time has come for Smithfield to end our NASCAR partnership. We've been with Aric since the beginning. We were his first sponsor in 2012, his first full year in the NASCAR Cup Series, and we've enjoyed great success with him over the years."
"Aric has been an incredible ambassador for Smithfield over the past 12 seasons, and we have enjoyed an outstanding relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing in our six seasons together. We plan on finishing 2023 strong, and we wish Aric and SHR the very best.
Photo Credit: Craig White, Racing America