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Aric Almirola, sponsor returning to SHR for 2021 season

NASCAR America breaks down the intense finale at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, Jimmie Johnson's final season and if Kyle Busch can rally from the bottom of the field and defend his title.

Aric Almirola and sponsor Smithfield will return to Stewart-Haas Racing for next season, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal first reported the deal for the 2021 season.
Almirola is in his third season at Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s made the playoffs each year. He finished a career-high fifth in points with the team in 2018.

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Almirola has one Cup win since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. That came in the 2018 playoffs at Talladega. He was partnered with crew chief Mike Bugarewicz before this season and responded with a career-high streak of nine consecutive top-10 finishes.

“He’s done a really good job, him and Mike, of growing together as a team and figuring out what he likes,” said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition at SHR. “(Bugarewicz) has done a great job at that, but it’s time to go. They’ve been picking up and building their confidence and I feel like they’re ready, they just have to go out and execute.

“When you go back through and you look at the top fives and top 10s he’s had all year, I don’t know if a single one of them was just a good, clean race. They’ve had issues. Pit crews, restarts, speeding on pit road – things of that nature that have made him go to the back and have to race to the front. If we can clean all of those things up and not make any mistakes, I think he’ll have a good opportunity.”

The 10-race Cup playoffs begin Sunday at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN).