Aric Almirola announced on Monday that he is going to retire from full-time competition after the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, citing that his family is the primary reason he is stepping away.
“I truly enjoy driving racecars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing,”Almirola said in a statement released by 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.”
The 37-year-old and his wife, Janice, have two children—a son, Alex, and a daughter, Abby, who will be 10 and nine years old respectively by the end of the 2022 season.
“I’m going to have a short window with them while they still think Dad is cool,” his statement said. “I want to be there for them and to be a part of the things they’re interested in. Before we know it, they’re going to have car keys and they’re going to be running off with their friends, doing the same things I did when I was 16 or 17.”
Almirola made his Cup Series debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 11, 2007, just a few days before his 23rd birthday. But he did not start competing in the series full-time until 2012 with Richard Petty Motorsports in the historic No. 43. Since then, he’s tallied three wins, 26 top-5 finishes, 84 top-10 finishes and taken three poles in the span of 388 races in a 14-year Cup Series career.
“I’ve watched Aric develop into a really good race-car driver and it was a proud moment when we were able to bring him to Stewart-Haas Racing,” team co-owner Tony Stewart said. “He’s really delivered for our race team and for Smithfield, always putting in maximum effort. I know he wants to go out on a high note and we’re going to give him all the resources to succeed.
“That being said, we also want him to enjoy this season. Aric is a great husband and father, and this year will bring a lot of cool moments that he’ll be able to share with his family. He’s earned this opportunity to go out on his terms.”
Almirola’s final full-time season kicks off with the non-points Busch Light Clash in February at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the 2022 campaign officially kicks off. The first race will be on Feb. 20 with the Daytona 500.
“It means a lot to be able to walk away on my own terms. It’s been a great ride. I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination and I honestly have no regrets,” Almirola said. “Do I wish I would’ve won more races? Sure, and there’s still an opportunity this year. Do I wish I would’ve won a championship? Sure, and I’ve got a lot of drive to make that happen this year. I’m a competitive person. I want to win and I want to be a champion, but at the end of the day, I know that those things mean way less than being there for my family.
“I made it to the highest level of American motorsports as a professional racecar driver. It’s been amazing, with a lot of ups and downs and everything in between. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I’m ready to go back to being a fan.”
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