By: Toby Christie, Editor – Follow on twitter @Toby_Christie
FORT WORTH, Texas — We know who will drive the famed No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2018, Bubba Wallace. The sponsorship picture is still a little cloudy, but it’s getting clearer each day.
On Friday, the team announced Click n’ Close — a division of Mid America Mortgage, Inc. — as a primary sponsor for at least three races next year, with a chance that the company will extend that agreement to more events.
Also, it appears that Smithfield Foods, who had a bitter divorce with the team a few weeks back, has now made up with the team. And it looks like the food company will be a part of the sponsorship picture for the No. 43 next year.
“We’re going to be involved with Smithfield next year,” team co-owner Richard Petty explained during a press conference on Friday. “Deal being, we’re going to be in a different area with them. I think they are going to use us more with corporations and stuff like that, people that are in business with that sell mass things. Not just through the grocery stores. It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with.”
Driver, check. Sponsorship, semi-check. But a major piece of the puzzle for the race team, is still unanswered: Who will be their manufacturer next year?
“I’ll let you know when I find out,” Petty quipped.
In response to the fact that the team has yet to sign on with a manufacturer for next year, Ford Performance’s Global Director, Dave Pericak released a statement:
“Ford remains committed to being RPM’s OEM partner for the 2018 season and we are awaiting finalization of our contract to do so. RPM has not made a commitment to Ford for 2018 as of yet.”
Based on that statement, it appears that RPM is shopping their organization around to other manufacturers. Now the question becomes: will RPM stay a blue oval team? Or will they go see what another manufacturer has to offer?
UPDATE 11-4-2017: According to a report from Kickin’ The Tires, Toyota is not in the running to become RPM’s manufacturer for next season. This essentially means that the battle is between Ford and Chevrolet.
When you add in the fact that The Final Lap has confrimed that Biagi-DenBeste Racing has moved it’s alliance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series away from RPM to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2018, it looks like the decision on a manufacturer will land on where the best technical alliance deal falls.
Chevrolet teams (like Richard Childress Racing) have been much more open to adding satellite teams to their stable in the Cup Series in recent years, for what it’s worth.
Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images