The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season did not play out as Aric Almirola planned. Now he is on a mission to deliver standout results while driving the No. 10 Smithfield Foods Ford Mustang.
Almirola delivered this message in a team release from Stewart-Haas Racing. He explained that he remains in pursuit of consistency after a season in which he started with three top-10 finishes but ultimately missed the playoffs after only securing four more.
“My mentality for 2023 is really to be better this year than I’ve ever been before, each and every day,” Almirola said in a press release. “For me, as I look throughout my career, I have had a lot of inconsistencies.
“And once I got to Stewart-Haas Racing, I really honed in on being a lot more consistent and running up front, but last year was not the case. I want to consistently be up front and be the best that I can be. Hopefully, we can get our cars faster, but for me personally, it’s just about being the best me every single week.”
The 2022 Season Featured a Unique Situation
Almirola entered the 2022 season with three career wins and five appearances in the Cup Series playoffs. The expectation was that he would once again contend for a spot in the 16-driver field.
However, there was a unique situation that played a role in Almirola’s season. He had to adjust to the introduction of the Next Gen car, which led to numerous first-time winners and some surprising wrecks. Many of the drivers did not know what to expect at the various tracks on the schedule.
“There were just so many unknowns last year,” Almirola explained. “There really wasn’t an expectation because we had a brand new car on a brand new track that no one had ever raced before.
“You saw a lot of mechanical issues take cars out last year, so I think you’re going to see different racing just because of the experience we now have with the car and the track. Hopefully, we’ll see cleaner racing so we have a shot at it this year.”
This Quest for Consistency Begins With a Crown Jewel
Almirola will have 36 points-paying races to pursue consistency. He will also have exhibition events in the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum and the All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
The season will officially begin at Daytona International Speedway, a track where Almirola has previous success. He has made 22 starts at the Florida track, and he has secured one win — the 2014 Coke Zero 400.
Almirola has not won the Daytona 500, but he has come close. He finished fourth during the 2017 iteration of the Crown Jewel event. He then kicked off 2022 by finishing fifth overall while fellow Ford Performance driver Austin Cindric won for Team Penske.
The 2023 Daytona 500 presents another opportunity for Almirola. He will work alongside 2007 Daytona 500 champ Kevin Harvick, Ryan Preece, and Chase Briscoe while they all pursue a Crown Jewel win and a potential spot in the Cup Series playoffs.