NASCAR veteran returning to Truck Series, first time in 12 years

Aric Almirola is set to make his first NASCAR Truck Series start in more than a decade this Saturday afternoon at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Aric Almirola, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR Xfinity Series
Aric Almirola, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR Xfinity Series / James Gilbert/GettyImages

Hattori Racing Enterprises scaled back to a part-time operation ahead of the 2024 NASCAR Truck Series season, and through the season's first nine races, they have not fielded the No. 16 Toyota. However, that is set to change at North Wilkesboro Speedway this coming weekend.

Aric Almirola, who competes part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series after spending the last 12 seasons competing full-time for Richard Petty Motorsports (2012 to 2017) and Stewart-Haas Racing (2018 to 2023) in the Cup Series, is set to make his Truck Series return in this Saturday afternoon's Wright Brand 250.

Almirola's start in this 250-lap race around the four-turn, 0.625-mile (1.006-kilometer) North Wilkesboro, North Carolina oval is set to mark his first Truck Series start since November 2012.

Aric Almirola back in NASCAR Truck Series

The 40-year-old Fort Walton Beach, Florida native has not competed in a race at NASCAR's third highest level since finishing in ninth place at Texas Motor Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 5 Ford for Wauters Motorsports 12 seasons ago.

Almirola owns two career Truck Series victories, both when he competed full-time for Billy Ballew Motorsports in 2010. He won at Dover Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway en route to a runner-up finish in the championship standings behind Todd Bodine.

Neither Almirola nor Hattori Racing Enterprises have confirmed any more Truck Series starts throughout the remainder of the 2024 season.

In five Xfinity Series starts so far this season, Almirola has recorded three top five finishes, including a victory at Martinsville Speedway. He is set to make several additional appearances in the series as the season progresses.

Saturday afternoon's race is set to be the second Truck Series race at North Wilkesboro since 1996. Driving for Spire Motorsports, Kyle Larson won at the track last year in the series' return.

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The Wright Brand 250 is set to be broadcast live on Fox Spors 1 from North Wilkesboro Speedway beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET this Saturday, May 18. Start a free trial of FuboTV today and don't miss it!