Smithfield shifts racing sponsorship to Stewart-Haas

Smithfield Foods Joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2018

Smithfield Foods Joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2018

Of her seven top 10s, Patrick's best result was sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014.

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.

The news is not necessarily surprising as there had been speculation that Patrick could not fulfill sponsorships heading into next year.

Patrick, the only woman driver at NASCAR's top level, has endured a disappointing 2017 season and is 28th in the points standings. In fact, just once in her previous four seasons driving for Stewart-Haas Racing has she finished higher than another driver who was driving for a top-tier team, and that was in 2015 when she finished higher than Tony Stewart in the final championship standings. I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake.

The new driver of the SHR Monster Energy Cup vehicle will be named later. "Thanks for the memories", Patrick continued. 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. "I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future". Aric Almirola drives the No. 43 for RPM at this time, although the SHR statement only said details of the new driver would be announced at a later date.

RPM had believed Smithfield would sign an extension to continue as primary sponsor of the No. 43 auto and driver Aric Almirola, a relationship that's been in place since 2012. She has repeatedly said that she is financially secure enough that she does not have to race, and it wouldn't be worth doing if it made her miserable. Prior to her jump to NASCAR, Patrick was the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 in IndyCar as well as the first woman to race in the series. In fact, Wallace most recently drove for Richard Petty Motorsports and sponsor Smithfield Foods when Almirola was out with a back injury. Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are notable free agents who could replace Busch or Patrick. Perhaps she'll change her tune and consider a part-time or XFINITY Series ride, but if not, you've got exactly 10 races left to watch her in action.

She also competed in 10 Cup races for SHR that year before running a full Cup schedule in 2013.

Harvick and Bowyer are under contract, while Busch and Patrick are free agents whose returns to the organization are predicated on sponsorship.

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