Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Tony Stewart hints at interest in future XFINITY Series road course race

Tony Stewart hints at interest in future XFINITY Series road course race Tony Stewart hints at interest in future XFINITY Series road course race
Kristopher Love | 09 November, 2017, 19:39

During a Wednesday morning press conference at its Kannapolis, N.C., race shop, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Aric Almirola as the driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford in 2018.

Almirola was a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing back in 2007 and had a chance to earn his first career victory while filling in for Denny Hamlin in an Xfinity Series race at Milwaukee. Almirola dominated the race and was eventually taken out of the auto when Hamlin arrived.

Almirola replaces Patrick, who has been arguably the sport's best ever female driver. "I'm a competitor and it doesn't matter if it's a game of Monopoly at home or I'm at the race track on Sunday trying to compete to win a race, I'm going to compete at the highest level that I know how to".

Last month, Richard Petty Motorsports announced Darrell Wallace the driver of its No. 43 auto in 2018, leaving Almirola in limbo for next season - at least publicly. Almirola is coming with sponsor Smithfield to the team from the No. 43 auto.

"This is a great moment for Aric, and Smithfield is very happy to be a part of it because it's a great opportunity for our company", said John Pauley, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Smithfield.

Stewart retired from the Cup Series following the 2016 season, but has continued to regularly compete in sprint auto races. Byron has seven wins in 24 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and four wins in 16 races on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. The team is now 29th in the standings.

"Christmas came early for me", Almirola said Wednesday. "I've raced with him and seen him mature into a really good racecar driver".

SHR has already qualified Kevin Harvick for the season-finale championship race later this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Will Daytona 500 victor Kurt Busch be back next year to drive the No. 41?

Almirola is replacing Patrick, who said shortly after Smithfield announced it was moving to SHR that she would not be back with the team next year. Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne also said they were not candidates, which left Almirola as the obvious choice.

"I've known Aric since 2004 and have always been impressed with him on the racetrack", Stewart said.

Could Tony Stewart be making a return to NASCAR on a part-time basis? Stewart did not disclose terms.