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NASCAR Cup: Richard Petty Motorsports attributes Smithfield dispute to misunderstanding

Richard Petty (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Richard Petty (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Richard Petty Motorsports and sponsor Smithfield seem to have buried the proverbial hatchet after a round of he said/she said resulted from the announcement from Stewart-Haas Racing and Smithfield in September that Smithfield would be the primary sponsor of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car at SHR in 2018, instead of continuing its relationship with RPM.

“Fans…. We wanted to let you know there was a misunderstanding between us and Smithfield where a breakdown in communication led to the statement Richard made last month.

“Smithfield has been a great partner for over six years. We’re still cooking their bacon and always will.

“We are both focused on finishing as strong as we can for the remaining races this year,” read the statement from Richard Petty Motorsports via its Facebook page.

After the announcement of Smithfield’s move from Richard Petty Motorsports to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2018, Petty contended that he had a handshake deal from Smithfield that the pork company would continue its sponsorship of the No. 43 car for RPM in 2018.

“We have had numerous discussions with Smithfield Foods regarding the extension of our relationship dating as far back as February,” Petty said. “Over the past few months, Smithfield had continually told me they wanted to be with us, and I recently shook hands on a deal to extend our relationship. I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake. I’m sad to see this is where we are now. This decision is very unexpected, and we are extremely disappointed in this late and abrupt change of direction.

“Losing a sponsor of this magnitude in September is a significant set-back to Richard Petty Motorsports, but Andy (Murstein, co-owner) and I are committed to moving forward with the No. 43 team. We have a lot of great partners who have expressed their continued support, and our fans will rally around the No. 43. We’ve been around since 1949, and we’ll be around a lot longer.”

Smithfield disputed Petty’s claim.

“We are extremely disappointed that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has chosen to disparage Smithfield – its lead sponsor – after five years and tens of millions of dollars of unwavering financial support, despite years of sub-par performance on the track,” read a statement from Smithfield Foods Inc. CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan. “RPM’s claims of a ‘handshake deal’ to extend our sponsorship are unequivocally and patently false. Smithfield’s numerous discussions with RPM over the past several months focused exclusively around one issue: RPM’s inability to deliver on the track and the organization’s repeated failure to present a plan to address its lack of competitiveness. Smithfield is a performance driven company and we demand performance from the people we do business with. For that reason – and that reason alone – Smithfield decided not to renew its contract with RPM when it expires at the end of this year. It is very unfortunate and disheartening that RPM has chosen to disseminate false statements regarding our communications to NASCAR fans who we have supported wholeheartedly with more than a $100 million investment in the sport over the last several years.”

On Wednesday, RPM announced that Darrell Wallace Jr. will be the driver No. 43 in 2018, replacing Aric Almirola. Sponsor, manufacturer and shop location announcement are assumed to be forthcoming.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on October 26, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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