It looks like Richard Petty Motorsports and its soon-to-be former sponsor Smithfield Foods aren’t wasting any time airing out their dirty laundry.
Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan issued a response to Richard Petty’s statement Tuesday, and he didn’t pull any punches, calling out RPM for “years of subpar performance on the track.”
Earlier Tuesday, Petty said that he and his eponymous team were “extremely disappointed” — words that Sullivan echoed in his statement — with Smithfield’s decision to sign with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2018. The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion also claimed that Smithfield had made a handshake deal to extend their partnership agreement.
“We are extremely disappointed that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has chosen to disparage Smithfield — its lead sponsor — after five years and tens of millions of dollars in unwavering financial support, despite years of subpar performance on the track,” Sullivan said. “RPM’s claims of a ‘handshake deal’ to extend our sponsorship are unequivocally and patently false.”
Although Smithfield has, as it said, pumped over $100 million into the sport, and will continue to do so with Stewart-Haas Racing, the tone of Sullivan’s statement might have left a bad taste in fans’ mouths. “The King” is an extremely popular figure in the NASCAR world, so his message probably would have been better received if he expressed his disagreement with Petty’s comment, without also attacking RPM for its on-track results — or lack thereof.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images