Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Haas Racing after 2017 — NASCAR breaking

Ruben Hill
September 13, 2017

Smithfield Foods announced Tuesday it will not return to Richard Petty Motorsports even though the company had a handshake agreement with team owner and NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty to be Aric Almirola's sponsor next season.

Danica Patrick is done at Stewart-Haas Racing and her future in NASCAR is now up in the air amid a sponsorship shake-up. "Our incredible partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful".

That means Smithfield could end up on the No. 10 Ford, now driven by Patrick. The dispute was settled out of court, and the company eventually sponsored three races for teammate Clint Bowyer instead. "Thanks for the memories", Patrick wrote. "I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future". Since 2012, Almirola has 1 win (Daytona 2014), 27 top 10 finishes, and 1 Playoff appearance. Busch, the Daytona 500 victor, does not have a deal with SHR for next season. Murstein also is owner of the New York Lizards professional lacrosse team. Negotiations with current driver Aric Almirola also stalled as the team attempted to finalize the sponsorship deal, ?and the team confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Almirola would not return to the team next season. RPM's claims of a "handshake deal" to extend our sponsorship are unequivocally and patently false. I'm sad to see this is where we are now.

"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", the statement read.

"Losing a sponsor of this magnitude in September is a significant setback to Richard Petty Motorsports, but (Murstein) and I are committed to moving forward with the No. 43 team". 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. "We've been around since 1949, and we'll be around a lot longer". They would like that driver to be Darrell Wallace Jr., who drove the #43 machine in four races this season in relief of Almirola, who suffered a broken back in a nasty wreck at Kansas. He remains a candidate to return to that vehicle full time, dependent on sponsorship.

Almirola was 20th in the standings when he broke his back in May.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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