The veteran driver broke the news with a video on his YouTube channel. He sat down in the grandstands at a racetrack and detailed his first exposure to racing and how he fell in love with the sport. Almirola then explained that he has the goal of spending more time with his children instead of missing crucial years of their lives.
“I truly enjoy driving race cars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing,” Almirola added in a statement from Stewart-Haas Racing. “But 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.
“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 first made his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2007 with Joe Gibbs Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. He continued to run a part-time schedule for multiple organizations in 2008-2011 before moving to Richard Petty Motorsports on a full-time basis in 2012. Almirola has made a total of 388 Cup Series starts with 84 top-10 finishes, 26 top-fives, three wins, and three pole awards.
Almirola’s ‘Anchor Partner’ Will Return for His Final Season
Part of the announcement from SHR also involved Almirola’s primary partner. The organization confirmed that Smithfield Foods will return to the No. 10 as an anchor partner for the 2022 season.
The food brand first joined forces with Almirola during the 2012 season when he drove full-time for Richard Petty Motorsports. Smithfield continued to support Almirola every season of his full-time Cup Series career, resulting in multiple playoff appearances and two separate trips to Victory Lane. Almirola’s first career win — Daytona International Speedway in 2014 — featured the U.S. Air Force as the primary partner.
The relationship will continue during the 2022 campaign, but there is no set number of races just yet. SHR’s use of the term “anchor” indicates that Smithfield will once again be the primary for the majority of races once again.
Almirola Invested a Considerable Amount of Time Making the Decision
Almirola clarified during this YouTube video that the decision was not something that he took lightly. He and his wife Janice spent a considerable amount of time together examining all angles of the decision and how it would affect the family.
“Janice and I have spent many nights talking about it and the questions are the same as anyone else would have when you’re going to stop doing something,” Almirola said in the YouTube video. “Can I afford it? The answer I kept coming up with is that I can’t afford not to. Will I regret it? I think I’ll regret it if I don’t.”
As Almirola explained, their son Alex will be 10 at the end of the season while their daughter Abby will be nine. The two children are quickly approaching the years where they will want to spend less time with their parents. Almirola is aware of this, and he explained that he wants to be present and be part of the things that his children enjoy. Walking away from full-time racing will allow him to achieve this goal.
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