KANNAPOLIS, NC. – Smithfield Foods will continue as an anchor partner of Aric Almirola and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for the 2022 season of the NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola recently announced his retirement after the Nov. 6 season finale at Phoenix Raceway to spend more time with his family.

The partnership of Smithfield Foods and Almirola is one of the most tenured in NASCAR. Smithfield became a NASCAR sponsor in 2012 with Richard Petty Motorsports. The pork processor’s brands, such as Farmland, Eckrich and Curly’s, were featured on the No. 43 Ford Fusion, as primary sponsor in 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events — including the Daytona 500. Almirola teamed up with Smithfield while at Richard Petty Motorsports for his first full year in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Smithfield and Almirola joined SHR in 2018, and since then, Almirola has represented the processor in the NASCAR Playoffs every year and scored two wins – Oct. 14, 2018, at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and July 18, 2021, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to have Aric as part of our Smithfield Family for more than a decade now,” said Shane Smith, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. “In addition to being an incredibly talented racer and devoted family man, Aric embodies Smithfield’s values and has embraced our commitment to do good for our customers, employees and communities. He will always be family. We wish him all the best in his next chapter and look forward to another great year with him and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Almirola is married and the father of two children. He and his wife, Janice, looked at life beyond racing, which led to Almirola deciding that stepping back from the track would allow him more time with family.

“Janice and I have spent many nights talking about it and the questions are the same as anyone else would have when you’re going to stop doing something,” Almirola said. “Can I afford it? The answer I kept coming up with is that I can’t afford not to. Will I regret it? I think I’ll regret it if I don’t.

“At the end of this season, we’re going to have a 10-year-old in Alex and a nine-year-old in Abby, and I’m going to have a short window with them while they still think Dad is cool,” he 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.”

Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, said, “I’ve watched Aric develop into a really good racecar driver and it was a proud moment when we were able to bring him to Stewart-Haas Racing. 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,” Stewart added. “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.”