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Aric Almirola Moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018

One of the worst-kept secrets in the NASCAR garage is finally out.

On Wednesday (Nov. 8), Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Aric Almirola will move to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 10 Ford in 2018.  Almirola will replace Danica Patrick, who has not announced any plans for next season as of yet.

Smithfield Foods will follow Almirola to Stewart-Haas Racing from Richard Petty Motorsports and serve as the team’s primary sponsor.

With the move, Almirola sees himself in a much better position to add to his win total.

“This is the opportunity every racer wants,” Almirola said in a press release.  “Stewart-Haas Racing is an experienced organization with a lot of depth, great technical support from Ford, and staffed with racers from top to bottom.  They lean on each other, challenge each other and make each other better. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.

“I’ve known Tony Stewart since our time together at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Almirola continued.  “I know what he expects and he knows my commitment. I can’t thank him and Smithfield enough for believing in me and providing this opportunity.”

For Smithfield Foods, Almirola’s knowledge of the company was a key factor in why they decided to stay with the Tampa-born racer.

“Obviously, we strongly believe in Aric’s ability and that of Stewart-Haas Racing, and those abilities transcend the racetrack,” said John Pauley, Smithfield Foods’ executive vice president of sales and marketing.  “They want to consistently run up front and contend for wins, but they’re also very interested in helping us win in the marketplace. This is a strong partnership with outgoing personalities who are driven to succeed.

Team co-owner Tony Stewart said he knows what he’s getting with Almirola.

“I’ve known Aric since 2004 and have always been impressed with him on the racetrack,” Stewart said.  “I’ve raced with him and seen him mature into a really good race car driver.  He can compete for wins here at Stewart-Haas Racing and help our other drivers compete for wins.  He’s an excellent fit for this team and for Smithfield.”

2018 will be Almirola’s seventh season with Smithfield Foods sponsorship.  In that time, he’s started 207 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races for Richard Petty Motorsports.  He has one victory (the rain-shortened 2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway), 10 of his 11 career top five finishes and 29 of his 31 career top 10 finishes.  He also earned his only career pole position back in 2012 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  His average finish in those 207 starts is 20.048, slightly better than his career average of 21.5.

Stewart-Haas Racing did not announce how many races that Smithfield Foods will be on the No. 10 on Wednesday. The Virginia-based company reached a settlement with Richard Petty Motorsports last week regarding the acrimonious ending of their relationship.  As a result, Smithfield Foods will continue to be involved with the No. 43 team in some capacity in 2018.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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Sol Shine

Worst kept “secret” ever. I can’t understand Stewart on this. Almirola’s record isn’t much better than Patrick’s. Meanwhile, a proven winner like Kenseth can’t get a decent ride. Kind of a joke when Nascar’s premiere series is populated by drivers who can bring a sponsor and have no particularly great amount of talent. And don’t give me that crap about Almirola has a win, it was rain delay win, just like Buescher’s at Pocono and proves nothing. His record is not much, period.

Bill B

Come on, it’s a stretch to even call the 43 a second tier team. SHR is definitely a top tier team. If Almirola doesn’t show marked improvement next year I will be the first to say so, but until he gets a chance in top tier equipment I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. I am very interested in how he does in that 10 car in comparison to Patrick. All her fans continually make excuses for her suckiness and often blame the equipment. If Almirola gets some decent finishes it will prove what we all suspected.

Tom B

How can the car who has won the most races and championships be called a second tier team?
I agree Danica is no winner, but so are twenty plus other drivers out there, including Almirola. Every 4 car team has the one car and driver with no chance of winning so they get whatever time and money is left. But you have to be real blind and hateful to deny all the very hard, mostly intentional, crashes Danica has endured through out her disappointing career. Aric will be about as successful as Clint, maybe 1 win in the next five years.

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