Charlotte, NC NASCAR veteran Eric Almirola will retire from competition at the end of the 2022 season to spend more time with his young family.
Almirola revealed its plans to Stewart-Haas Racing staff on Monday at the same time Smithfield Foods announced its 11th season sponsoring the driver.
“You have to be selfish to be the best in this business and for the past 37 years my life has always revolved around me and what I need to do,” Almirola said. “I want to be present. I want to be the best husband and father I can be, and to me that means more than being a racecar driver.
“So this is another year where I’m 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 say goodbye. I loved It’s every minute of it, but it’s time for the next chapter in my life.”
Cuban-born Tampa native Almirola made his NASCAR National Series debut in the truck series in 2005. Their first win was recorded two years later at the Xfinity Series in Milwaukee, but it was a controversial race: Denny Hamlin, who was his teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing at the time, was to race the car with Almirola. , until Hamlin arrived. Cup Series exercise held in Sonoma, California.
Almirola qualified the car, leading 43 laps and was in third place when Hamlin arrived and replaced Almirola in the seat. Hamlin crossed the finish line first but an angry Almirola was declared the winner as he was the driver who started the race.
Almirola made his Cup debut in 2007 with Joe Gibbs Racing, but later that season moved to Dale Earnhardt Inc. He became a full-time Cup driver with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2012 – the same year he partnered with Smithfield – and took his first Cup win two seasons later in a rain-less July race at Daytona.
Almirola and Smithfield moved to the SHR in 2018, and Almirola made it to the playoffs at No. 10 in all four seasons. He scored three career cup victories and finished a career-best fifth in the 2018 standings.
Shane Smith, President and CEO of Smithfield Foods, said, “In addition to being an incredibly talented racer and dedicated family man, Eric embodies Smithfield’s values and embraces our commitment to doing good for our customers, employees and communities. “
The pandemic has cut NASCAR’s schedule over the past two years to mostly one-day events — down from full three-day weekends for decades — and allowed drivers to live more traditional lives and attend extra-curricular events with their families Is. Almirola, who turned 38 in March, has a son and daughter.
Almirola said that he decided to retire with his wife, wondering whether he might retire young and that he would regret not making the move to spend time with her before his children were older.
“The answer I kept coming up with is that I can’t stand it,” he said. “We’re going to have a 10-year-old in Alex and a 9-year-old in Abby, and I’m going to have a little window with them while they still think Dad is cool. I’m there for him.” Want to be and be a part of things that interest them.
“Before we know it, they’ll have car keys and they’re about to run away with their friends, doing the same things I did when I was 16 or 17.”
More Associated Press Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.