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Almirola, Smithfield out at Richard Petty Motorsports

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NASCAR

Big silly season news rocked the NASCAR world on Tuesday. Smithfield Foods will end their partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports. Smithfield is moving to sponsor a team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Driver Aric Almirola will also not return to Richard Petty Motorsports.

This news dwarfs anything about this weekend’s opening Playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway. RPM and Aric Almirola failed to make the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs. They are currently 30th in the championship standings.

For the past 6 years, Smithfield Foods has been the primary sponsor for RPM’s famed 43 car and Aric Almirola. Since 2012, Almirola has 1 win (Daytona 2014), 27 top 10 finishes, and 1 Playoff appearance. Almirola was sidelined earlier this season due to a vicious wreck at Kansas Speedway. He missed 7 races. Several different substitute drivers raced the 43 in his absence. The ‘handshake deal’ that Richard Petty had with Smithfield is no more. Smithfield’s has not yet made public their contract details with SHR or who they will sponsor.

With Danica Patrick vacating her seat at SHR, one may assume that Almirola is inheriting the 10 car with Smithfield as a sponsor. This has not yet been confirmed but is not out of the realm of possibilities.

The Future for Richard Petty Motorsports

Almirola’s replacement at RPM will more than likely be Bubba Wallace. In 4 starts as Almirola’s substitute driver this year, Bubba had a best finish of 11th at Kentucky. A sponsor has yet to be found for Bubba or RPM. However, Richard Petty Motorsports and the famed 43 car will be back in 2018, per The King’s statement today.

In addition to Danica Patrick’s announcement, today’s news only added more uncertainty to the 2018 NASCAR field. The apparently never ending silly season just took another turn. The future plans for many drivers are unsure, and the 2017 season is only 10 weeks from its conclusion.

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