Getty Images
Getty Images

Aric Almirola Driver Bio

Birthdate: March 14, 1984
Hometown: Tampa, FL
First Career Cup race: March 11, 2007 (Las Vegas)
Career Cup Poles: 2
Career Cup Wins: 2
Best Cup Championship Finish: 5th – 2018

Aric Almirola has been racing since he was eight years old, starting with go-karts. After spending a few years cutting his teeth in local open-wheel modified series, Almirola became one of the original members of the Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Diversity Program in 2003. His first few years in the program saw him racing in late model events.

Almirola got his first big NASCAR start in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2005 at the age of 21. He made four starts that first year and scored two top-10 finishes.

In 2006, Almirola ran a full-time season in Gander Trucks for Spears Motorsports. He still maintained an association with Joe Gibbs Racing and scored three top-10 finishes that year. He also made his debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2006 and made nine starts for Joe Gibbs Racing in the series.

The following year, Almirola made his NASCAR Cup Series debut driving the No. 80 for JGR at Las Vegas and the No. 01 for Dale Earnhardt Inc. for five starts. His best finish was a 26th at Phoenix International Raceway.

He also ran half of the Xfinity events that year and “scored” his first NASCAR victory at The Milwaukee Mile driving the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing. Almirola didn’t actually cross the finish line in first, though, as JGR decided to put the car’s regular driver, Denny Hamlin, back in the car mid-race. Almirola had qualified the race for Hamlin who was busy with his Cup duties. When Hamlin couldn’t make it to the track in time for the start, Almirola started the race and was running third when Hamlin replaced him. Hamlin went on to score the victory.

Almirola was hired by DEI to share driving duties in the No. 01 Chevrolet in 2007 and the No. 8 Chevrolet with Mark Martin in the Cup Series. He competed in 12 races in 2008 and scored one top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. Almirola also led his first laps in the Cup Series, collectively three laps at Talladega and 53 laps at Martinsville.

In 2011, Almirola made 33 Xfinity Series starts for JR Motorsports. Although winless in 2011, he tallied seven top 5s and 18 top 10s on the way to the fourth position in the season standings.

In 2012, Almirola returned to the Cup Series – behind the wheel of the famed No. 43 at Richard Petty Motorsports. He finished 20th in points and closed the season with top 10s in two of the final four races, including fourth place at Martinsville Speedway.

For 2013, Almirola improved two spots to 18th in points with six top-10 finishes in 36 starts. His best showing was fifth place in the July race at New Hampshire. He also made one start in the Xfinity Series, finishing ninth in the March event at Phoenix.

With a breakthrough victory in July at Daytona International Speedway and a career-best finish – at that time – of 16th in the Cup Series standings, Almirola considered 2014 a success for his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team.

The Daytona win propelled Almirola into the post-season, where he was the No. 12 seed among 16 title contenders. He was eliminated after the first round and finished the year with seven top 10s in his 36 starts.

Almirola was shut out of post-season competition the next two years, missing a Chase berth by more than 200 points in 2016 – a season in which his best finish was eighth in the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway.

In 2017, Almirola competed in 29 of the 36 races after he was sidelined  while recovering from a back injury suffered in a crash at Kansas Speedway in May. In a winless season, his best finish was fourth in superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega.

Almirola left Richard Petty Motorsports at season’s end to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing and had a breakout 2018 season in the team’s No. 10 Cup Series entry.

In his seventh full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Almirola posted career numbers in top fives (4), top 10s (17), laps led (181), average start (15.6) and average finish (12.8). Those numbers boosted him to his first appearance in the Round of 8 – second career spot in the playoffs – and a career-best fifth in the final standings.

Almirola returned to Victory Lane in 2018 with his win at Talladega Superspeedway in the playoffs, ending his 149-race winless streak.

The second season at SHR didn’t go as well for Almirola as he finished 14th in the 2019 Cup Series standings.

“We don’t want to be satisfied with just making the playoffs,” Almirola said . “You want to make a run in the playoffs like we did last year and win races. Unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

Almirola will return to the SHR No. 10 Ford Mustang in 2020 but will have a new crew chief after a shuffle inside the organization. Mike Bugarewicz moves over from teammate Clint Bowyer’s ride after three seasons replacing Johnn Klausmeier, who spent the last two years working with Almirola. He’ll now be paired with Bowyer and the No. 14 team.