Aric Almirola will not be back with Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season. Who is in the running to take his place?
Stewart-Haas Racing have altered their NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup after six of the last seven seasons. That number was already set to become seven out of eight with Kevin Harvick retiring and Josh Berry slated to replace him behind the wheel of the No. 4 Ford in 2024.
But during this stretch, they have made no more than one change to their four-car roster in a single offseason. That will change this year.
Aric Almirola initially planned on retiring after the 2022 season, but he changed his mind and returned in 2023. But amid a 2023 season in which he has struggled, he has decided not to return to the No. 10 Ford in 2024.
While the 39-year-old Fort Walton Beach, Florida native isn’t officially retiring, he will need to be replaced. Here are three possibilities.
Possible Aric Almirola replacements for 2023: No. 1 – Noah Gragson
Noah Gragson has recently emerged as the frontrunner to replace Aric Almirola behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing next year. While the development may be viewed as surprising, he was also viewed as a “dark horse” replacement for Almirola this year when Almirola was still planning on retiring after 2022.
Gragson underperformed in his rookie season with Legacy Motor Club, scoring just two top 20 finishes in 21 starts before he was ultimately released after being found to have “liked” an inappropriate meme on social media.
In fact, he was rumored to lose his ride after the 2023 season even before “liking” that meme, so one really has to question whether or not the social media situation simply made an inevitable situation easier.
Gragson was reinstated by NASCAR after taking sensitivity training, officially beginning his path back to the Cup Series. Now Stewart-Haas Racing, which tried (but failed) to sign Kyle Larson after he was in a similar situation back in 2020, could be his 2024 destination.