FORT WORTH, Texas -- Aric Almirola is set to replace Danica Patrick in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 car next season, and new SHR sponsor Smithfield also has agreed to continue a relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports, sources said.
Almirola said last week that he was continuing to work on his 2018 plans, and SHR has announced that it would hold a news conference Wednesday morning to introduce the driver of its Smithfield-sponsored No. 10 car.
Smithfield, which has sponsored Almirola for the past six seasons at RPM, announced in September that it would move to SHR in 2018 but did not announce a driver. At the time, Almirola would not say what his 2018 plans were but just that he would not return to the Petty team.
Smithfield has recently agreed to an ongoing collaboration with RPM next season as it transitions to SHR, according to a source. RPM and Smithfield executives exchanged harsh words after that announcement, with Richard Petty saying the team had a handshake deal with the sponsor. Teams often put clauses in sponsor contracts that can make it difficult for a sponsor and a driver to leave together, which industry sources said was the hold-up for SHR to announce the hiring of Almirola.
The 33-year-old Almirola has one career victory -- the July 2014 race at Daytona -- in 241 Cup starts. He was 20th in the Cup standings when he broke his back in a crash in Kansas in May. He also has three victories in the Xfinity Series and two in the Camping World Truck Series.
SHR still has to announce a driver for its No. 41 car, currently driven by Kurt Busch and sponsored by team owner Gene Haas and Monster Energy. SHR didn't pick up Busch's option as it awaits a decision from Monster Energy, but Haas has said he fully expects Busch to return, and Busch has said remaining at SHR is possible.
Motorsport.com first reported confirmation of Almirola to SHR.