Aric Almirola to Replace Danica Patrick in Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Car Next Season

Aric Almirola has found his 10…

The 33-year-old Cuban American stock car race driver, nicknamed “The Cuban Missile,” will 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 to ESPN.

Aric Almirola

Last week Almirola said he was still working out 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 didn’t announce a driver. At the time, Almirola wouldn’t 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.

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.

Gutierrez Confirmed as Haas Second Formula One Driver

Esteban Gutierrez will be getting behind the wheel for Haas next year.

The American outfit has confirmed the 24-year-old Mexican racing driver as its second driver for the team’s debut Formula One season in 2016.

Esteban Gutierrez

It has been widely known Gutierrez would be unveiled by Haas for some time, with North American heritage and a role as Ferrari reserve driver making him an obvious candidate.

Ferrari is supplying Haas with a power unit for 2016, while the American outfit is also accepting as many components from Maranello as are allowed in the regulations.

Gutierrez, who drove for Sauber in 2013 and 2014, will partner current Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who was unveiled at Haas’ North Kannapolis base in late September.

The announcement was made in Mexico City after the first day of practice at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigeuz ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

“I got to know Esteban through our relationship with Ferrari, and after looking at the success he’s had to earn his role there, it became clear he was an excellent choice for our race team,” said team boss Gene Haas. “He’s young and hungry, but not inexperienced. His two years running a full F1 schedule has given him some very good race experience, and having spent this season at Ferrari as their third driver allowed him to see first hand the methodology that makes Ferrari such a power in Formula One.”

“We’re very happy to have Esteban as a part of our race team. Between him and Romain, we have a strong driver lineup that will help us develop our car and, ultimately, score some points in our inaugural season.”

Gutierrez won the GP3 Series in 2010 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in 2012. Two seasons followed at Sauber but he only finished in the points once, at 2013 Japanese Grand Prix where he finished sixth.