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NASCAR Cup: Richard Petty not happy with how Smithfield deal went down

Richard Petty (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Richard Petty (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Amid various announcements on Tuesday that have sponsor Smithfield leaving Richard Petty Motorsports for Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Haas Racing and Aric Almirola leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at season’s end, with speculation having him going to SHR with Smithfield, RPM co-owner Richard Petty released a statement expressing his disappointment in how it all went down.

“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, though, disputes Petty’s claim of a handshake deal and cites poor performance by the race team as the reason for the departure.

“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 subpar 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.”

In Smithfield’s time sponsoring RPM’s No. 43 car with Almirola as driver (since 2012), the team has won once, at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in 2014. That win got Almirola in that year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. That was the only season Richard Petty Motorsports participated in the Chase/playoffs.

Richard Petty Motorsports scaled back from a two-car to a one-car team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after the 2016 season, upon the retirement of one of its drivers, Brian Scott, continuing to field the No. 43 Ford for Almirola in 2017.  The team also is looking for a new race shop. It’s current shop is up for lease, as the race team decided its large size no longer fit its needs since downsizing.

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 September 12, 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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