Richard Petty Motorsports' Renewal Efforts With Smithfield Foods In Question
Richard Petty Motorsports’ renewal efforts with primary sponsor Smithfield Foods have hit a snag, according to sources, leaving the future of the one-car Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team in question. Ford-backed RPM has been working all season on a renewal with Virginia-based Smithfield, which is by far the team’s biggest financial backer, and the team was said to have a handshake deal with the company that it was working on finalizing. However, sources late last week noted that the talks appeared to have broken down, not long after sources said the team proposed Bubba Wallace as the driver of the No. 43 next season. Smithfield had been linked early on in the season with a move to Stewart-Haas Racing, but talk of that possible deal had cooled over the summer until last week. Cuban-American driver Aric Almirola, who currently drives the No. 43 and has been with Smithfield and RPM since ’12, could end up at SHR as part of the moves. A move to SHR would have an on-track impact for Smithfield, as RPM has struggled in recent years. However, it also could open up possible B2B opportunities with SHR partners that use lots of pork like Jimmy John’s and Hunt Brothers Pizza. Smithfield was said to be spending around $12M and looking at cutting that by as much as half next season, but such figures would still be welcome by teams like SHR that have scores of open inventory to sell and have come to accept that $15M, season-long deals are getting tougher to come by. A source close to RPM said that the team could have an announcement on the future of its deal with Smithfield as soon as today. Smithfield's marketing agency in motorsports is Protential. RPM’s smaller deal with the U.S. Air Force is also up for renewal after this season.