With the dispute between Smithfield Foods and Richard Petty Motorsports resolved, puzzle pieces for 2018 are falling into place.
It started with Smithfield announcing last month it was leaving RPM after six seasons to sponsor a Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing. In the immediate aftermath, Richard Petty blasted Smithfield for what he said was the company going back on an agreement for next season, leaving Smithfield firing back in defense.
But earlier this week, Smithfield and RPM made nice with Smithfield saying it would remain a partner of the organization next season.
In a statement, Smithfield 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.”
Darrell Wallace Jr. will drive the No. 43 next season, but what role Smithfield will play is unclear.
“We’re going to be in a different area with them,” said Petty on Friday at Texas. “I think they’re going to use us more with corporations and stuff like that, people already in business with them. Mass things. Not just through the grocery stores.
“It’s going to be interesting, really, to see what they come up with and right now it’s working real good for both sides. It’s been a good relationship for six years. They want to continue. We wanted to continue and right now, this is the way we’re going to do it.”
Even with this resolved and their plans with Petty, Smithfield is still headed to Stewart-Haas.
An announcement is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Stewart-Haas Racing shop to announce the driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford. The expectation has always been Aric Almirola is headed for that ride, but contract clauses such as whether Almirola could continue to work with Smithfield if it left RPM, could have been what was holding up the process. Almirola has been partnered with Smithfield since 2012.