Aric Almirola’s career has come full circle at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with the driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang enjoying the best years of his NASCAR Cup Series career.
A Florida native, of Cuban descent, Almirola made his first foray into NASCAR competition in 2004 behind the wheel of a LTE-model stock car. He made his first NASCAR Cup Series Start in 2007 and immediately began to climb the ranks over the next few years, competing in all three of NASCAR’s premier series.
Almirola has made the NASCAR Playoffs every season since arriving at SHR in 2018. In fact, in his first year with the organization, Almirola finished a career-best fifth in the championship standings as a member of the 16-driver NASCAR Playoffs and advanced to the Round of 8 for the first time. He won his second career NASCAR Cup Series race Oct. 14 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway as part of a season-long tally that included four top-five and 17 top-10 finishes and 181 laps led, surpassing all of his previous single-season statistics.
Matching those numbers in 2019 proved difficult, but Almirola continued to perform. He scored his second career NASCAR Cup Series pole – and first with SHR – Feb. 22 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The pole symbolized Almirola’s strength in qualifying, where his 10.5 average starting spot was his best in eight full seasons.
In terms of top-fives, top-10s and laps led, 2020 was a career year for Almirola. His six top-fives, 18 top-10s and 305 laps led were all season bests, and each significantly bettered his previous yearlong highs from 2018.