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Nascar’s Aric Almirola Will Compete Another Full Season After Sponsors Urging

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

There’s a famous line from the 1990 crime drama The Godfather: Part III where Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino says “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

That same line might apply to NASC
R driver Aric Almirola. Months after announcing he would be stepping away from fulltime NASCAR at the end of this season, Almirola said Friday at Daytona International Speedway that he will return for at least one more season.

The main motivation for that return seems to have come from his longtime sponsor Smithfield Foods. The company has been involved with Almirola since 2012, following him to Stewart-Haas Racing when he moved to that team in 2017.

It seems the company wanted Almirola to come back badly enough that they signed a multi-year extension with the team and increased their sponsorship.

“The amount of support that they have given to me and my family throughout my career is humbling,” Almirola said Friday. “When Shane Smith called me, the CEO of Smithfield and said, ‘Hey, we really want you to reconsider retiring. We want you to come back and drive our race car.’ It’s really hard to say no.”

The deal for Almirola is for 2023, for now. Smithfield, however, is on-board for multiple years. Almirola added that Smithfield has increased its investment in NASCAR.

“That was one thing that really hit home for me was when I talked to Shane,” Almirola said. “He came down here to the Daytona 500 this year and that was his first race in many, many, many years.

“He grew up in North Carolina and was a fan of this sport way back when, and he’s been running the European operations for Smithfield for the last 10 years or so. He has now been promoted to CEO and he came to the Daytona 500 and was blown away when he walked around and just seeing the level of excitement, the enthusiasm for this sport, the sold-out grandstands, the viewership, just everything that he’s seen with this sport and just walking around and seeing the people that are here – all of the campers that are here throughout the infield, everybody tailgating and cooking out. Shane just said, ‘These are our people. These are our customers. We’ve been marketing to them and telling them a story and trying to get support for our brand from this core group of people for 11 years. We’re heavily invested in this market, and we want to continue to be.’ “

During this, what was to be his final season, Almirola said he started to slow down away from the track spending more time with his wife Janice, and his kids a son who will be 10 next month, and a daughter 8.

“I just found a wonderful balance to where I still can be the husband that I want to be and the father that I want to be and we did some really cool stuff this year,” he said. “I forgot just what a wonderful opportunity it is to be a race car driver. Not only do I get to do what I love to do, but we get to travel around the country and go to all sorts of different cities, so we took that opportunity this year.

“We went to the Arch in St. Louis. We went to the stadium where the Cardinals play. We’ve been to baseball games in Philly when we went to Pocono. We went to a Tigers game when they were playing the Tampa Bay races when we were in Detroit for the Michigan race. We’ve taken family road trips between Phoenix and Vegas. We went to Zion and hiked, and we’ve just really taken this year to kind of embrace it and soak it all up and I think as a family we’re not ready for it to end yet.”

So, the end for Almirola in NASCAR won’t come when the 2022 season is over. Instead thanks to his sponsor he’ll be back, for at least one more year. But he’s also learned lessons this season, about being a better husband, and a better father. Lessons he will carry through an entire season, at least one more.

“I think those are lessons that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m a very, very highly competitive person and when I came into this sport it was just me. I just had myself to worry about and then I met Janice and Janice and I dated for a while and then once we got married it was like, ‘Oh, boy. I’m now responsible for you as well,’ and then we had kids and it was like, ‘Oh no, now I’m responsible for two more mouths to feed.’”

Almirola admitted that on reflection he was, perhaps, ‘all in on racing’ a bit too much and putting his family farther down the list, lost among all the commitments that come with being a NASCAR driver. That, however, started to change as he neared his original retirement date. It gave him a new outlook.

“As I approached retirement it was like, ‘Man, I want to make sure that we do this together, that we go out holding hands as a family.’ We really soak it all up. We embrace it.,” he said. “We cherish this opportunity.”

The 38-year-old said in his early days of racing it was easy to prioritize other things besides his family. The children were younger and wouldn’t remember. With his children older now, he has a new outlook.

MORE FROM FORBESDespite Rough Start To 2021 Cup Season, Nascar Driver Aric Almirola Is Keeping Sponsors Happy

“They’re going to remember this time in their life forever,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that it was done, and we did it right on the way out.

“I think for the rest of my life I’ll take those lessons learned and make sure that I don’t sacrifice being a great husband and being a great dad at the expense of being a professional and vice versa. I don’t want to sacrifice being a great professional at the expense of being a poor dad or poor husband or absent one.”

And the ‘rest’ of the life, one away from fulltime racing, will be at least one more NASCAR season from the end of the current one. And that season will be made even more special as Almirola is a better husband, and father, and will all be made possible by his longtime sponsor.

“Absolutely, and I think that’s one thing, for me, that has been just a huge blessing personally and professionally,” he said. “Smithfield has been the primary sponsor on my race car my entire Cup career and so to continue to have their support and their backing is just an awesome feeling to be their guy and to be wanted.”


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