A scathing statement was recently released by Smithfield Foods CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan, aimed directly at Richard Petty Motorsports, in the latest round of mud-slinging between Smithfield and the team.
Smithfield has been RPM’s primary sponsor since 2012, but recently announced a split, which will happen after Homestead when Smithfield departs for Stewart-Haas Racing.
In those six seasons, driver Aric Almirola has one win (2014 Daytona), one pole, nine top-five and 27 top-10 finishes, but this season Almirola suffered a compression fracture as a result of a wreck during the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway that caused him to miss seven races.
RPM currently rests in a dismal 30th place in points, with the future looking bleak now that they have announced that Almirola will be leaving at season’s end alongside Smithfield.
But back to the mud-slinging.
The statement Smithfield’s CEO released basically calls Richard Petty a liar, in regards to Petty’s statements of a “handshake deal” for 2018 between the two parties. Smithfield goes on to further bash RPM by stating that their organization disseminates false statements to the fans.
According to Smithfield, they have been in discussions with RPM about “years of subpar performance” out of the team.
The statement made by Smithfield made me chuckle. Sure, Smithfield has invested over $100 million in RPM since 2012, which equals about $16.5 million a year.
That’s a bunch of money for us everyday Joes, but in all reality, it’s only an average investment for a Cup ride.
A few years ago I had a conversation with crew chief Chad Knaus about why teams like his consistently run up front.
His response was to the point: money.
Everyone is going to spend a certain amount of money to run 190 miles per hour, but its the extra millions that give teams the last five percent they’re all looking for.
Also from my conversation, each year Lowe’s spends roughly $30 million to keep Jimmie Johnson up front. So, as Knaus puts it, Smithfield pays for 190 mph and not 195 mph.
The fact that Smithfield has the gall to slam RPM for not performing well, considering the numbers they said they fund the team with, is ridiculous.
Unless Smithfield plans on adding roughly $10 million a year to their deal with SHR, I would expect them to run about as well as Danica Patrick has in the No. 10 car, which has struggled for sponsor dollars the past several years.
Smithfield knows how things work in NASCAR. They know that it takes money, and lots of it, to run in the top 10. The fact that they are leaving RPM in the way that they are is absurd to me.
I am curious to see how this shift is going to play out next year.
Hopefully Smithfield brings a few extra armored cars to the table.
Otherwise I simply expect them to be disappointed again.
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, the Performance Motorsports Network, Scorpion Radio Group, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
Andy DeLay is a career law enforcement officer for Clearwater, Florida who carries a passion for motorsports at both the local and national levels. He is an avid iRacer who also spends time away from the virtual circuit at local tracks.
In addition, DeLay is a host of the long-time Burning Rubber Radio Show on the Performance Motorsports Network, the wireless mobile radio affiliate of Race Chaser Online, as well as an onsite reporter for PMN in various capacities.
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