Tha Sports Junkies 101

Aric Almirola to Stewart-Haas Racing, TSJNASCAR’s Special Access



A new partnership is underway in NASCAR, with a similar driver and sponsor, but a new team. Smithfield Foods and Aric Almirola have been announced as the duo behind the Stewart-Haas Racing 10 car for 2018. TSJNASCAR was able to gain access to the press conference, and interview both Aric and team owner Tony Stewart.

Almirola is taking over the 10 car from the departing Danica Patrick.  Patrick has been with SHR since 2013, and her future racing plans are yet to be known. Meanwhile, Almirola has been with Richard Petty Motorsports since 2012. In his 6 years in the famed 43 car, Aric scored 1 win, the 2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. This win locked him in the 2014 Playoffs, where he would finish 16th in points.

Aric’s crew chief will be Billy Scott, who has been with the 10 car since 2016. Scott was previously a crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing, where he worked with fellow SHR driver Clint Bowyer.

In 188 career starts in the 10 car, Patrick has 7 top 10s, 1 pole, and has finished 24th in points twice. Her career results are surprisingly similar to Almirola’s. Aric has 1 wins, 31 top 10s, and 1 pole in 242 Cup Series starts.

Tony Stewart’s Thoughts

Almirola’s hiring has brought a renewed sense of optimism to Stewart-Hass Racing in regards to the 10 car. Team owner Tony Stewart stated “I think we have the confidence that Aric’s gonna do a great job. We expect this car to run better, and he expects to run better, which is why we made this deal. The way I look at it is he made a commitment to come here because he thinks it’s gonna be better, we hired him because we think he can do a great job in the car, and it’s just a matter of getting the chemistry right with the crew chief and team. It’s hard to say how much better we’ll be until we get out there, but for now, it’s about making the team better week-to-week.”

Aric Almirola’s Season Outlook

Aric, the newest addition to this championship-caliber race team, is highly optimistic heading into 2018. “The expectations are pretty much assumed, f you look around this race shop and see all of the banners, win flags and championship flags that’s what’s expected out of this team. I expect that out of myself, the team expects that, Smithfield expects that, so I welcome that. I’m excited for that when you have those expectations that means you have the resources to be really competitive.”

Another bit of news came from this press conference at Stewart-Haas Racing. Tony Stewart floated the idea of getting back behind the wheel of a NASCAR Xfinity or Truck Series ride. “I would like to run somewhere down the road. It won’t be next year, I think we already have our lineup for next year. But, I’m interested in trying to possibly run a couple Xfinity Series races in the future, maybe a Truck race at Eldora, or something like that. You probably won’t ever see me in a Cup car again, but having the Xfinity program, with the car that Kevin [Harvick] drove 6 races in gives us an opportunity for me to maybe get back in a car down the road and do a couple races at tracks that I’ve never been to.”

In summation, the addition of Aric Almirola brings a restored air of confidence to Stewart-Haas Racing and the 10 team. With Billy Scott, Smithfield, and the support of Tony Stewart, this major career move may be Almirola’s breakthrough move in the NASCAR Cup Series. Stewart-Haas is a team who is an annual championship threat, so expect strong runs out of the 10 car in 2018.