While Aric Almirola once again put off a full retirement after initially planning to hang up his helmet following the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, he did confirm that he will not be back for what would have been a seventh season behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2024.
The decision left Stewart-Haas Racing needing to make two driver changes between the 2023 and 2024 seasons, as Josh Berry had already been announced as the replacement for the retiring Kevin Harvick behind the wheel of the No. 4 Ford.
While Stewart-Haas Racing had changed their driver lineup after six of the previous seven seasons, they had never made more than a single change in any offseason during that span.
Noah Gragson, who had been considered a dark horse candidate to replace Almirola last year when Almirola believed he was going to retire after the 2022 season, emerged as the favorite to replace him in 2024. Now he is officially set to become the new driver of the No. 10 Ford.
Noah Gragson joining Stewart-Haas Racing for 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season
Gragson lost his ride with Legacy Motor Club during the 2023 season after being found to have "liked" an inappropriate meme on social media, but his performance led to speculation that he would be replaced even before that. He recorded just two top 20 finishes in 21 starts.
By the time he was reinstated by NASCAR following his suspension, he had already requested his release from the team.
Almirola is now set to move to Joe Gibbs Racing's Xfinity Series team as a part-time driver. He is ironically set to split time behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota with John Hunter Nemechek, who has been confirmed as Gragson's replacement at Legacy Motor Club.
Stewart-Haas Racing's full 2024 Cup Series lineup consists of Gragson, Berry, Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece. Briscoe is set to enter his fourth season with the team while Preece is set to enter his second.
Briscoe is the only former race winner of the bunch, having won at Phoenix Raceway in March 2022, so the confirmation of Gragson largely solidifies a rebuild for a team whose two veteran drivers opted to move on after the same season.
The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to get underway with the Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, February 4. The official 36-race schedule is set to begin two weeks later with the 66th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 18. Both races are set to be shown live on Fox, so begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss them!