Smithfield Foods For '18 NASCAR Season Will Leave RPM, Join Stewart-Haas Racing
Smithfield Foods will "leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the conclusion" of the '17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and "make the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing," according to Nick DeGroot of MOTORSPORT.com. Smithfield has been aligned with RPM since '12, "winning one Cup race." The brand "confirmed the move and explained that their reasoning behind the switch had to do with a desire to be more competitive on the race track" (MOTORSPORT.com, 9/12). ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass notes RPM had been "confident that it would continue a relationship with Smithfield and is now scrambling to find an anchor sponsor." Negotiations with driver Aric Almirola also "stalled as the team attempted to finalize the sponsorship deal." While RPM's future "appears in limbo, so does the SHR driver lineup." Both Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch "do not have set deals with SHR" for '18, and neither driver has sponsorship "solidified for next season." SHR has said that it is "trying to work things out with Busch." Almirola, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are also free agents for '18, and each are "possible replacements for Patrick or Busch at SHR." It is "unclear whether Smithfield could sponsor Almirola," as sponsorship contracts in NASCAR "sometimes contain clauses that prohibit a sponsor to move with a driver." SHR also has "open inventory" on Clint Bowyer's car. RPM was a "two-car organization up until this season when it downsized to one car focusing on Almirola" (ESPN.com, 9/12).