There have been rumblings in recent weeks about the Stewart-Haas Racing driver and whether he really will walk away at the end of the 2022 season. NBC Sports play-by-play man Rick Allen even casually mentioned it early in the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10. Now Almirola has weighed in and said that he has thought about that possibility.
“It is humbling to have people keep questioning me about it,” Almirola told media members at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, transcript provided by Ford Performance. “I have given it thought but I don’t have anything new to say really as of right now.
“I think for us and for our race team, my focus is to get through these next few weeks and try to win a race to get our way into the playoffs. I would like to do that here this weekend like we did last year. As far as anything that goes past this year, I don’t have anything new to say than what I have said previously.”
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Almirola Provided an Explanation for the Chatter
When Almirola announced that he would retire, he specifically mentioned his family as the primary reason. He explained that he wanted to be involved in his kids’ lives and that they would want to be with their friends once they turned 16 and learned to drive. He didn’t want to miss those family moments.
“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.”
If he has the goal of spending more time with his family, why has he thought about a potential return in 2023? Almirola provided a simple explanation. He said that his future has become a topic of discussion so frequently that there are decision-makers now asking him. Once these key figures began to ask questions, Almirola said that he at least needed to give a return some thought.
Almirola’s Decision Will Play a Major Role in 2023’s Lineup
Will Almirola return to the No. 10 SHR Ford Mustang for another season, or will he retire after the season finale at Phoenix Raceway as originally planned? No one knows the answer heading toward the playoffs, but Almirola’s decision will have a ripple effect.
If Almirola retires, he will leave an open spot at SHR. This will be one of the coveted seats, and there will be multiple possible options. Ryan Preece, Ty Dillon, and numerous other drivers could be the pick to replace Almirola.
If the three-time Cup Series winner returns, however, he will have an effect on Silly Season. Preece, in particular, may have to stay at SHR in a reserve driver role for another year if there isn’t another opportunity for a full-time ride.
There is no guarantee that Preece is the person that SHR will select to replace Almirola or any of the other drivers in the organization. He is just a logical choice given his role as a reserve driver and his ties to Kevin Harvick’s management company.