Aric Almirola Discovers “Purpose” as NASCAR Mentor with JGR

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Aric Almirola finds “purpose” in NASCAR mentor role at JGR

Almirola, aged 39, made the decision to step back from his role as a full-time Cup Series driver at the conclusion of the 2023 season, concluding a six-year tenure with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Shortly after his announcement, Joe Gibbs, the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), approached Almirola about a potential return to the organization where his NASCAR journey began nearly two decades ago.

Recognizing Almirola’s potential as a role model and mentor, particularly for JGR’s emerging crop of younger drivers, Gibbs proposed not only a coaching role but also active participation in the Xfinity Series as a full-time driver.

Aric Almirola Discovers "Purpose" as NASCAR Mentor with JGR
Aric Almirola Discovers “Purpose” as NASCAR Mentor with JGR (Credits: Sports Spectrum)

Reflecting on their initial conversation, Almirola shared, “Coach first asked me about racing full-time. I told him, ‘I don’t think I can tell Janice (his wife) I’m retiring from full-time racing to go full-time racing.’ So, we talked through that, and we kind of settled on what would be ideal for me, which was about 15 races.”

In addition to embracing the challenge of racing with one of the top Xfinity organizations this season, Almirola found the prospect of serving as a driver coach and mentor particularly appealing.

He wasted no time immersing himself in this new role, stating, “I’ve spent a lot of the time already with the drivers individually away from the shop and then also here at the shop. Just building that relationship with them and being a guiding light for them.”

Acknowledging the uniqueness of each driver’s style, Almirola emphasized that his role is not about dictating how they drive but rather offering guidance.

Drawing on his own experiences seeking advice from racing legends like Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, and Jimmie Johnson, he expressed a sense of pride in being able to assist the younger generation.

Almirola believes that his guidance can help them navigate both the complexities of racing and the challenges of life, creating a valuable support system.

This new chapter for Almirola aligns with JGR’s current composition of a significant number of young drivers in the upcoming season, alongside Cup drivers Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs. JGR is set to field four full-time Xfinity teams and an ARCA program, with Almirola sharing the Xfinity track with Sheldon Creed and Chandler Smith.

Despite not having hit the track yet, JGR’s Executive Vice President for Xfinity Series/Development, Steve de Souza, emphasized the positive impact of Almirola’s addition to the organization. He noted that Almirola has already engaged with all the drivers and is integral in shaping the agenda for driver meetings.

Expressing his excitement for the upcoming season, Almirola considers this opportunity with JGR as more than just focusing on his individual performance. He stated, “I’m as excited about this year as I have been in a long, long time. This is just different by having the opportunity to focus on more than just myself.”

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