Stewart-Haas Racing has signed Aric Almirola to drive the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series in 2018. Despite having a new home in 2018 and a new ride, this partnership comes with familiar faces, notably team co-owner Tony Stewart and crew chief John Klausmeier.
“I’ve known Tony Stewart since our time together at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR),” said Aric Almirola. “I know what he expects and he knows my commitment. I can’t thank him and Smithfield enough for believing in me and providing this opportunity.”
Tony Stewart, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, is outspoken in his support for the 33-year old Cuban American driver. “I’ve raced with him and seen him mature into a really good race car driver. He can compete for wins here at Stewart-Haas Racing and help our other drivers compete for wins. He’s an excellent fit for this team and for Smithfield.”
In 2007, Almirola left JGR to join Dale Earnhardt Inc., where he met John Klausmeier, an engineer with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland-Baltimore. Almirola’s career has come full circle in 2018, with Klausmeier rising to become his crew chief and Stewart now his team co-owner after a decorated driving career.
Almirola’s transition to SHR takes place after six seasons wheeling the iconic No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM). In his time with RPM, Almirola scored the organization’s first victory in the famed No. 43 since 1999 when he won the July 2014 race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. He also won a pole and earned 11 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes.
“This is the opportunity every racer wants,” Almirola said. “Stewart-Haas Racing is an experienced organization with a lot of depth, great technical support from Ford, and staffed with racers from top to bottom. They lean on each other, challenge each other and make each other better. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.”