NASCAR: Surprise driver linked to Joe Gibbs Racing return

Joe Gibbs, Aric Almirola, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joe Gibbs, Aric Almirola, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR) /

Aric Almirola is likely to compete part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing during the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season after leaving Stewart-Haas Racing.

Aric Almirola made the decision before the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season that he was going to retire once it ended. But during the season itself, he changed his mind and signed a deal to return to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2023, with the option to stay even beyond that.

While he opted not to return to Stewart-Haas Racing for what would have been a seventh season behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford in 2024, he still put off retirement for at least another year, and now a potential landing spot has come into focus — but not in the Cup Series.

The 39-year-old Fort Walton Beach, Florida native made his Xfinity Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2006 and his Cup Series debut with the team in 2007.

Now he is believed to be on his way to a part-time role with Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team in their “star car” for the 2024 season.

Team owner Joe Gibbs himself appeared to introduce Almirola, along with Cup driver Christopher Bell, as one of his NASCAR drivers on the sideline during the Washington Commanders blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Gibbs is a former head coach of the Washington Redskins who won three Super Bowls with the franchise. He will forever be a Washington legend, especially as the current coaching staff can’t even put together a game plan to beat the New York Giants third string quarterback.

Some fans were holding out hope that Gibbs made his return to the sideline to do some coaching, but a third stint with the organization is not in the cards. Worth noting, new Commanders owner Josh Harris is also a new co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing.

Joe Gibbs Racing have not yet confirmed either one of their full-time Xfinity Series drivers for next year after losing both of their drivers for the second straight year, with John Hunter Nemechek moving up to Toyota’s Legacy Motor Club in the Cup Series and Sammy Smith moving over to rival JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.

But former Richard Childress Racing driver Sheldon Creed and former Kaulig Racing driver Chandler Smith have both been heavily rumored to join the team, and nothing has changed on that front. They are both expected to be confirmed in the near future.

As for the “star car” Almirola will likely drive, no other drivers have been confirmed for that car either.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

No changes are expected at Joe Gibbs Racing’s Cup Series team, with Bell, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Ty Gibbs, Joe’s grandson, all set to return in 2024.