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Richard Petty issues statement on Smithfield, Aric Almirola

MORE: Smithfield Foods to SHR in ’18

Following the news that Smithfield Foods, currently sponsoring the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Fusion, would be joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018, Richard Petty has released a statement.

“We have had numerous discussions with Smithfield Foods regarding the extension of our relationship dating as far back as February. Over the past few months, Smithfield had continually told me they wanted to be with us, and I recently shook hands on a deal to extend our relationship. I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake. I’m sad to see this is where we are now. This decision is very unexpected, and we are extremely disappointed in this late and abrupt change of direction.”

RELATED: Drivers of the No. 43 in NASCAR history

Petty also confirmed that driver Aric Almirola would not return to the organization in 2018, but the team intends to continue racing, as it has since 1949.

“Losing a sponsor of this magnitude in September is a significant set-back to Richard Petty Motorsports, but Andy (Murstein) and I are committed to moving forward with the No. 43 team. We have a lot of great partners who have expressed their continued support, and our fans will rally around the No. 43. We’ve been around since 1949, and we’ll be around a lot longer.”