Sponsor Smithfield moves to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018
13 September, 2017, 09:05 | Author: Leah Owens
The news comes at a good time for SHR, who appears to be in a state of flux when it comes to its drivers and sponsors for next year.
In 180 career races, 170 of which with the top-tier Stewart-Haas Racing team, she has never finished in the top 5 and has only finished in the top 10 once, with just one of those top 10 finishes coming in the last 90 races.
"The decision to leave Richard Petty Motorsports and join Stewart-Haas Racing was hard, but we feel this move will improve our competitiveness on the track and strengthen our position as a leading consumer packaged goods company", Smithfield said in a statement.
Patrick, who has been with the team for the past six seasons, announced via Facebook that she would not continue driving for the team in 2018. In 2012 she made the switch from IndyCar to NASCAR full-time. Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve.
Which SHR driver Smithfield will sponsor in 2018 was not announced, though the company indicated in a statement that the team may be changing its driver roster.
Patrick became the first female to start on the pole for the Daytona 500, NASCAR's season-opening race, in 2013 with her qualifying lap of 196.434 miles per hour. "Thanks for the memories", Patrick continued. "Our unbelievable partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful".
At the same time, she more or less confirmed the worst-kept secret in NASCAR at the moment, which is that she's going to be replaced by Aric Almirola with Smithfield coming with him from the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 as a sponsor. "I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future". With rumours suggesting that a new driver could be in the frame at RPM, such as Darrell Wallace Jr who subbed for Almirola earlier this year, there's every chance that Almirola could be moving with his sponsor to Stewart-Haas.
Both Harvick and Busch will represent SHR in the 10-race playoffs that begin Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.
"We have had numerous discussions with Smithfield Foods regarding the extension of our relationship dating as far back as February", Petty said. For that reason - and that reason alone - Smithfield decided not to renew its contract with RPM when it expires at the end of this year. In both series she owns seven top 10 finishes in addition to a 2013 Daytona 500 pole.
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