Smithfield Foods, Richard Petty Motorsports Resolve NASCAR Sponsorship Issues
Smithfield Foods said that the company has reached a resolution with Richard Petty Motorsports over the fallout from the pork conglomerate’s planned move next season to Stewart-Haas Racing. Smithfield is now expected to stay on in some form with RPM next year in addition to its move to SHR. The brand has been on one RPM car for six seasons in a deal thought to be worth around $12M annually, but it announced a move in September to join four-car Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team SHR next season. Richard Petty had accused Smithfield of backing out of a handshake deal to renew, setting off a rancorous back-and-forth. Sources said that RPM had also privately threatened legal action over some clauses in the Smithfield contract that it thought were broken, leading to settlement talks that have gone on for weeks. However, the company in a statement yesterday to THE DAILY said, “We’re pleased that there has been a resolution to this misunderstanding. Smithfield has enjoyed its six-year relationship with RPM and like any NASCAR supporter, we want to continue to see the No. 43 car on the track for years to come. Richard is truly a legend in NASCAR -- a sport and community of fans that we love and are proud to continue to support in 2018."
LOOKING FORWARD: Sources said that Smithfield’s relationship with RPM will be largely different and likely reduced as part of the settlement, and it is unclear whether there will be any paint schemes involved. But there is thought to be a financial component to the settlement. Meanwhile, Smithfield, which works with Illinois-based motorsports agency Protential, has yet to unveil precise details of its upcoming SHR partnership, including the car and driver that Smithfield will sponsor. Sources said that the lack of an announcement has been at least in part due to Smithfield working on the RPM settlement. Current RPM driver Aric Almirola, who will be released at the end of '17, is thought to be the favorite to move to SHR’s No. 10 Ford for '18. RPM is now lining up sponsorship to replace Smithfield after announcing Bubba Wallace as the driver of its No. 43 entry next year.