Jim Utter, the same reporter who broke the news of Roush offering Brad Keselowski an ownership role, provided the report on August 19. He cited sources with knowledge of Almirola’s decision and said that the veteran will return to the No. 10 for one more season. According to Utter, Smithfield Foods will also return as the primary partner of the entry.
Almirola originally announced his retirement with a YouTube video prior to the 2022 Cup Series season. He said in the January video that he wanted to be more present for his wife and his children. Almirola added that he has been “selfish” for 37 years of his life and that it was time for the next chapter in his life.
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Almirola is currently 16th in the Cup Series standings in points. However, he is below the cutline due to the presence of 15 winners. Winless drivers Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. are both ahead of him in the standings. Almirola can still reach the playoffs, provided he wins one of the final two regular-season races and overtakes Blaney and Truex.
This Report Answers Lingering Questions About Almirola
There have been rumblings about Almirola’s future in the past few weeks, leading to questions directed at the Stewart-Haas Racing driver. He responded at New Hampshire Motor Speedway by calling these questions “humbling” and saying that he had given the idea of a return some thought.
Almirola continued and explained that he had made the decision so that he wouldn’t miss out on important moments in his children’s lives. However, as more decision-makers began to ask him questions about his future, he knew that he needed to at least give the idea some thought.
“I will always be involved in their life but there is only a short time where they actually want me to be involved and I just don’t want to miss that opportunity or that window,” Almirola added during the media availability.
“I think as I evaluate where to go from here and give it real thought, their opinion matters to me because I want it to be something to where it is a family decision. Originally I made that decision based on my family and that won’t change going forward.”
This Decision Impacts Other NASCAR Drivers
Having Almirola make the decision to return has a ripple effect on NASCAR Silly Season. Stewart-Haas Racing has been at the center of several discussions throughout the season as people wonder about the future opportunities for reserve driver Ryan Preece and pending free agent Kyle Busch.
According to Spire Motorsports driver Corey LaJoie, there is “one possible Ford team” that has an offer out to Busch, who continues to face questions about whether he will return to Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart-Haas Racing is the only logical team that fits LaJoie’s description, but now Almirola’s decision creates even more questions.
With the three-time Cup Series winner returning to the No. 10 Ford Mustang, there is now one less potential seat for Busch. The No. 41 could still be an option. Though chief competition officer Greg Zipadelli told media members ahead of the trip to Watkins Glen International that the current plan is to have Cole Custer back in the entry for 2023.