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What are SHR’s Options with Aric Almirola in 2024?

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Aric Almirola’s decision on whether or not to retire in 2024 is going to come soon. If he does end up retiring, then Stewart-Haas Racing has to make some tough decisions. However, even if he does stay, that does not mean SHR doesn’t have tough decisions to make. What are SHR’s Options with Aric Almirola?

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If Aric Almirola Stays

If Aric Almirola stays, how long does he stay for? He originally was scheduled to retire at the end of the 2022 season, so it’s hard to see him signing a multi-year extension should he stay beyond 2023. However, Ford’s stable of young drivers is very thin as of right now, so it is easy to see why SHR would push for that if they could.

Then again, next year’s Silly Season still remains a mystery, and it is easy to see a scenario where SHR finds a new phenom to take over that ride for 2025. It’s not impossible to see a situation where SHR signs whoever is a hot prospect in 2025. They did take Josh Berry away from Chevrolet after all.

Therefore, SHR may find it ideal to bring Almriola and his sponsorship back for at least one more year and roll the dice on whatever prospects pan out. Then again, that is not entirely their decision, so, what is the plan should Almirola choose to retire?

What if Almirola Retires?

If Aric Almirola retires, SHR has a couple of options. One, they could sign someone else to drive the car in 2024, of which the pool is quite thin. The other option is to potentially downsize to three cars in 2024, and SHR could do that without selling a charter.

With SHR struggling as much as it is, it may be worthwhile to consider downsizing to a three-car or maybe even a two-car team for 2024 while they work on getting their feet underneath them. What they can do to make that happen is to lease a charter. Leasing a charter is not uncommon as many teams have leased charters in the past.

Most recently, Trackhouse Racing leased a charter from Spire Motorsports in 2021 to run their first season in Cup. Spire sold that charter to Kaulig Racing for 2022 as Trackhouse bought out Chip Ganassi Racing including both of their charters. It has been done multiple times before, but, most of the time, leading a charter eventually led to the charter being sold outright.

However, there is one instance of a race team leasing a charter, and eventually bringing it back into the fold, Legacy Motor Club as Toby Christie explains. Then known as Richard Petty Motorsports, the team leased its charter to Go FAS Racing for 2017 before moving it to a partnership with Rick Ware Racing in 2018. When Maury Gallagher bought into the team to form Petty GMS, it was brought back into the fold, and it is now a two-car team.

It has happened before, and SHR could choose to lease a charter out for a year or two until they are ready to run a multi-car operation again. However, if they choose to keep their fourth team around, who could they sign?

What Are SHR’s Driver Options For 2024?

SHR is again very limited in its’ driver options for 2024. The Ford stable is just not very deep talent-wise with Zane Smith going to Spire in 2024.

One interesting option is Noah Gragson. He was not on the radar earlier in the season, but he is currently searching for a ride for 2024. He may not bring a lot of sponsorship, but SHR tends to sign some drivers who were previously unwanted or rebuilding their careers. Examples of this include Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola just to name a few. Gragson fits that description.

Another guy who fits this description is Matt DiBenedetto. However, he has a history of bouncing around from team to team, and he also does not bring that much sponsorship. Gragson does not either for that matter, so, maybe these two guys are not good fits.

Cole Custer and Riley Herbst are options in the Xfinity Series, and they both bring massive funding along with them. However, Herbst has never won a National Touring Series race in 151 starts between Cup, Xfinity, and Trucks. Custer was just demoted to Xfinity this season for poor performance in the Cup Series with SHR.

Other Ford drivers include Ben Rhodes, Ty Majeski, and Hailie Deegan. Majeski and Rhodes are solid Truck Series drivers, but are they Cup Series material? Deegan has also struggled to find success despite driving in top equipment for ThorSport.

It’s easy to see why SHR wants Almirola back in 2024. If he leaves, they are left in a difficult spot, and the team is already struggling to begin with. What else is in their future?

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