Aric Almirola is a family man.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is retiring from the NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2022 season to spend more time with his wife and kids.
“I just realized that my family was making a lot of sacrifice for me to chase my dreams,” Almirola told “The Fox Garage” in an exclusive interview.
The 37-year-old said his children Abby and Alex, who turn 9 and 10 this year, are getting into their own things, and he wants to be there with them.
“Dad is just not present. I’m not there for the football games, the baseball games. My daughter’s gotten into horseback riding, theater, dance and I miss those on the weekends when I’m traveling all over the country racing for 40 weeks a year,” he said.
His kids and wife Janice do join him at the races when they can, but it’s gotten more difficult in recent years.
“It’s becoming harder and harder as they get involved more and more into sports and activities, and they’ve got friends. They don’t want to leave on the weekends,” he said.
“It feels like I’m punishing them saying, ‘No, come on, we’re going to go to the races this weekend,’ when they would rather be home living their life.”
Almirola is taking a pretty big step off the deep end and doesn’t yet have a plan for what he’ll do professionally after the season ends.
“At 19 years old I became a professional race car driver and I’ve never done anything else.”
Now that the decision’s public, he said he’ll be talking to people about what career opportunities might be out there for him, but he’s not completely done with driving just yet.
He said he’s still an adrenaline junky and hopes to get behind the wheel now and then, but won’t miss waking up on Monday mornings with the weight of the world on his shoulders depending on how he performed over the weekend.
“I won’t say goodbye to racing forever, it’s definitely something I love very much.”