Underperforming NASCAR drivers: No. 4 – Aric Almirola
2023 championship odds: +20000 at DraftKings Sportsbook (bet $5 to instantly win $150!)
Aric Almirola qualified for the playoffs in each of his first four seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford, three times on points and another time via an upset win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He was a clear upgrade over Danica Patrick, who never managed to finish a single race in the top five in five seasons with the team.
Almirola started the 2022 season off strong with three straight top six finishes, but since then, he has struggled. He dropped out of last year’s playoff picture and failed to get into the postseason for the first time as a Stewart-Haas Racing driver, and his start to the 2023 season has been much, much worse than his start to the 2022 season.
Last year at this time, he had five top eight finishes and still missed the playoffs. This year, he has just one top 12 result.
Yes, he does have a top 10 finish, unlike teammate Ryan Preece. But Preece is in his first season with the team and first season in the Cup Series since 2021, and he was dominating the race at Martinsville Speedway from the pole position and likely would have won if not for a pit road speeding penalty.
Almirola, on the other hand, ranks 29th in average points per race among full-time drivers, worst among the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers.
He has been open about the fact that he is considering retirement and doesn’t know what his future holds. But one must wonder if he simply should have stuck with his initial plan and retired at the end of the 2022 season instead of pulling a Tom Brady.