Reports: Almirola to replace Patrick at Stewart-Haas

Aric Almirola will replace Danica Patrick in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 car next season, according to multiple reports.

SHR is expected to formally introduce Almirola as its new driver for the Smithfield Foods-sponsored No. 10 car on Wednesday.

Almirola, 33, is in his final year racing for Richard Petty Motorsports and Patrick announced in September that she would not be returning to SHR in 2018 in part due to lack of sponsorship. Almirola said last weekend that he had not yet finalized his plans for next season.

He has made 241 Cup series starts, beginning with a part-time ride in 2007 with Joe Gibbs Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Almirola has one victory, 11 top-five finishes and 31 top-10 finishes, but SHR would provide his first opportunity at a full-time ride with one of the Cup series’ top-tier teams.

Almirola has also posted three victories in 100 starts in the Xfinity Series and two in 78 starts in the Trucks series.

Almirola missed seven races earlier this season due to a back injury suffered in a May crash at Kansas Speedway. He was 20th in the Monster Energy Nascar Cup series standings at that point, but has not finished better than fifth (Talladega in October) since returning while sliding to 29th in the standings.

Sponsor Moving With Almirola

Longtime RPM sponsor Smithfield Foods announced in September that it would move to SHR in 2018, but did not say at the time what driver the company would sponsor. Smithfield has sponsored Almirola for the past six years at RPM.

SHR has yet to decide whether Patrick’s No. 10 team will remain with Almirola next season, according to Motorsport.com. It has also not announced the 2018 driver for its No. 41 car, current driven by Kurt Busch and sponsored by team owner Gene Haas and Monster Energy. SHR did not pick up Busch’s option while it awais a decision from Monster Energy.

Busch has said that remaining at SHR is possible, while Haas has said he fully expects the driver to return.

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