NSCS: Smithfield Foods Signs Three Year Deal With Richard Petty Motorsports and Aric Almirola


Photo Credit: Richard Petty Motorsports


ByJoseph Wolkin-Associate Editor (@JosephNASCAR)

January 15, 2014

NEW YORK– Richard Petty Motorsports’ future is looking brighter than the sun. On Wednesday morning, Richard Petty Motorsports and Smithfield Foods Inc. announced a three-year extension, with a severe increase in their investment within the organization.

Smithfield, which has been with RPM since 2012, will gear up their sponsorship starting in 2014. It is not often that NASCAR has full-season sponsorship packages, but Smithfield is increasing their sponsorship from 15 events in 2012, 25 in 2013 and will now be featured on the famous No. 43 Ford for 29 races throughout the end of the 2016 season.

“I believe in the power of NASCAR and Richard Petty Motorsports. My challenge to RPM was to help Smithfield connect our brands with the sport’s 80 plus million fans,” said Larry Pope, President and CEO of Smithfield Foods.

Pope went to races as a child with his father, enabling him to understand the thrill of being at a race. He continued to state how much of a benefit NASCAR has been to his business, reassuring that he want to see success for both parties.

The sponsorship extension reassures that the Petty family will continue to have cars on the track for the foreseeable future. The announcement also includes a three-year extension for the driver of the No. 43 car, Aric Almirola.

Almirola has been racing for RPM since 2012 after a successful campaign in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports. Almirola said that the announcement is more important than just adding another sponsor, it is going to enable RPM to compete at the next level.

Smithfield Foods will have Eckrich, Farmland, Gwaltney and Smithfield on Almirola’s car throughout 2014-2016, but will also add Nathan’s for three races starting in 2014. The announcement comes at a time of uncertainty for many teams within the sport. Having a sponsor commit the way Smithfield has done is something that will only help strengthen the sport.

“First of all, I get to drive the most famous car in the sport’s history. It’s extremely special. More than that, I get to represent a company like Smithfield. It is such a great company, they really do so much to engage our markets. I feel like the luckiest kid in the world to get to drive the No. 43 car. It is painted in Petty Blue, it signifies what NASCAR is. To be able to represent such a good company in the meantime, and I get to go out and compete for wins. We’re competitive, and with this investment and commitment from Smithfield, it is going to allow us to be a lot more competitive. I’m ready to go out and have a chance to win races. That’s all I can ask for,” said Almirola in an interview with Motor Racing Scene after the press conference.

At the conference, RPM’s CEO, Brian Moffitt, was also present, and he discussed what the team’s plan is for the future. With this investment from Smithfield, the team is taking the 20 percent of added revenue from the past year, and putting it pack into the team, making sure they will be able to get the Petty name back to victory lane.

“Some of the world’s most profitable and successful corporations choose to partner with NASCAR because its proven to drive business,” said Jim O’Connell, NASCAR chief sales officer. He continued by stating it is a great sign for the sport that Smithfield has come to recognize the benefits which NASCAR offers over other sports is essential for the future of the company as well as other companies which will join the sport within the future.

Thanks to the investment by Smithfield, RPM has been able to create an R&D team, which will be led by Scott McDougall, who is a veteran NASCAR engineer. The team recently signed Dakoda Armstrong, 21, to a full-time deal in the No. 43 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the 2014 season. They also have Ryan Truex and Corey LaJoie under contract, but the team’s co-owner, Richard Petty, stated that they will not race until sponsorship is found, comparing it to the Smithfield deal.

However, even though the team is headed in the right direction, it is going to take a true commitment to get to victory lane. Pope believes that the team can do it as he is in it for the long haul. He was brutally honest in describing why he is playing such a key role with the team, and it is simple. Money.

“We look at the sales now compared to last year, that’s pre-races, now you look at the sales after the races, and we ask ‘what are the sales after the race?’ said Pope to a Fox Business writer.

Pope believes that the Petty name can help sell his product, and that it has. In 2013, Smithfield doubled their earnings from 2012, showing how much of an impact NASCAR has on companies. NASCAR officials were extremely pleased with the announcement, as was Petty himself.

“It brings stabilization. We got a three-year commitment from Smithfield to be back on the race car for plenty of races. It gives us stability to go out and reinvest in our business to try to make it even better. Again, we got that commitment. From Smithfield’s standpoint, it gives them three years to know where they are at with all of their brands. They can start planning this year, what they are going to do three-four years from now,” said Petty in an interview after the conference.

Petty also stated that Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Ford, has not decided whether or not he will return to the organization after the 2014 season. However, with the advances which the team will be making thanks to the partnership with Smithfield will certainly help their on-track performance.

The added revenue should help the organization compete for top-10 finishes more frequently. In 2013, Almirola had a career-high in top-10’s, and also finished 18th in points. Ambrose also had six top-10 finishes, but did not crack into the top-five, evidently finishing 22nd in points.

Besides announcing the sponsorship extension, Smithfield donated $43 thousand to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, created in memory of Richard’s grandson, Adam Petty. Almirola also spoke about how Smithfield enabled him to return to his home city of Tampa, FL. in order to donate 43,000 lbs of protein, along with $43 thousand as the company and he showed their gratitude for being so successful.

Expect to see the No. 43 competing for wins once again in 2014, and strengthening as the years continue. Stability is key in NASCAR, and that stability has been reached thanks to a collaborative effort between NASCAR, Smithfield and Richard Petty Motorsports.

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