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In a Tuesday afternoon NASCAR foolish season sequence, Danica Patrick introduced she won’t return to Stewart-Haas Racing subsequent season simply hours after Smithfield Meals declared in a separate launch that it will depart Richard Petty Motorsports for Stewart-Haas.

In easier phrases, Patrick has develop into a free agent and Aric Almirola is anticipated to comply with his longtime sponsor to Stewart-Haas.

Patrick broke the information herself on her Fb fan web page, stating that she wouldn’t return to Stewart-Haas “because of a brand new sponsorship association in 2018.”

“Sponsorship performs an important position in our sport, and I’ve been very lucky over the course of my profession, however this 12 months threw us for a curve,” Patrick wrote. “Our wonderful companions, comparable to Aspen Dental and Code three, stepped up in an enormous manner on quick discover this 12 months and I’m extremely grateful.”

Patrick started the season with Nature’s Bakery as the first sponsor on her No. 10 Ford, however the firm withdrew its help over a supposed breach of contract. The dispute was settled out of court docket, and the corporate ultimately sponsored three races for teammate Clint Bowyer as an alternative.

“I want SHR one of the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver. Thanks for the reminiscences,” Patrick wrote. “Proper now, my focus is on the rest of the 2017 season and ending the 12 months robust. I’ve the utmost religion in myself and people round me, and really feel assured about my future.”

In 180 Monster Power NASCAR Cup Collection begins, Patrick has zero wins, zero top-fives and 7 top-10 finishes. She captured the pole — the one pole of her Cup profession up to now — for the 2013 Daytona 500. Her greatest end was sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014.

In the meantime, Richard Petty and RPM principal proprietor Andrew Murstein had been left jilted by Smithfield Meals. Petty, a seven-time Cup Collection champion, mentioned he had a handshake settlement with the corporate that has adorned his No. 43 because the 2012 season.

“We now have had quite a few discussions with Smithfield Meals concerning the extension of our relationship courting way back to February,” Petty mentioned. “Over the previous few months, Smithfield had regularly advised me they wished to be with us, and I not too long ago shook arms on a deal to increase our relationship. I come from a time after we did main offers with sponsors like STP on a handshake. I am unhappy to see that is the place we are actually. This resolution may be very sudden, and we’re extraordinarily upset on this late and abrupt change of course.

“Shedding a sponsor of this magnitude in September is a major setback to Richard Petty Motorsports, however (Murstein) and I are dedicated to transferring ahead with the No. 43 group. We now have lots of nice companions who’ve expressed their continued help, and our followers will rally across the No. 43. We have been round since 1949, and we’ll be round quite a bit longer.”

Smithfield president and CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan disagreed with Petty over the main points of the nagotiating course of.

“We’re extraordinarily upset that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has chosen to disparage Smithfield – its lead sponsor – after 5 years and tens of hundreds of thousands of of unwavering monetary help, regardless of years of subpar efficiency on the observe,” Sullivan mentioned. “RPM’s claims of a ‘handshake deal’ to increase our sponsorship are unequivocally and patently false. Smithfield’s quite a few discussions with RPM over the previous a number of months targeted completely round one challenge: RPM’s incapability to ship on the observe and the group’s repeated failure to current a plan to handle its lack of competitiveness.

“Smithfield is a efficiency pushed firm and we demand efficiency from the folks we do enterprise with. For that cause – and that cause alone – Smithfield determined to not renew its contract with RPM when it expires on the finish of this 12 months. It is rather unlucky and disheartening that RPM has chosen to disseminate false statements concerning our communications to NASCAR followers who now we have supported wholeheartedly with greater than a $100 million funding within the sport over the past a number of years.”

Bubba Wallace made 4 begins within the Petty No. 43 whereas Almirola, who has one win and 10 top-five finishes in 234 profession Cup begins, recovered from accidents sustained in a violent crash at Kansas Speedway again in Could. He stays a candidate to return to that automotive full time, depending on sponsorship. Almirola did qualify for the NASCAR Chase in 2014, when he completed 16th within the standings.

As for Patrick, her future stays even murkier because of an absence of sponsorship that threatened to disrupt her 2017 season.

Aric Almirola is leaving Richard Petty Motorsports on the finish of the 2017 season and sure headed to Stewart-Haas Racing to switch Danica Patrick. Picture by LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

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