NASCAR Notebook: Questions for RPM, SHR

A.Almirola-R.Petty

The futures of both Richard Petty Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing will be decided in the next several days. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The futures of both Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports will be decided in the next several days.

Tuesday’s announcement that Smithfield would leave RPM for SHR in 2018 confirmed what had been speculated since early summer. Although it appeared in recent days that the company might remain at RPM, including published reports of a "handshake deal," the six-year partnership will be over after the 2017 season.

The decision leaves the single-car RPM organization with a huge funding hole to fill for its iconic No. 43 ride. In addition to rumblings about the potential of losing its sponsor, RPM has also been in discussion about possibly changing manufacturers - leaving Ford for Chevrolet.

SHR now has a much-needed sponsor for one of its cars in the wake of Nature’s Bakery departing at season's end and a murky future for Monster Energy on Kurt Busch’s No. 41 Ford. That company is said to be deciding on whether to remain a team backer or focus all its efforts as Cup Series title sponsor.

The wording of the Smithfield press release also would indicate the possibility of a different driver joining the SHR lineup in 2018. "The company is looking forward to announcing sponsorship for the driver who will be added to SHR's Monster Energy Series lineup in 2018" is how the press release read. Could it mean Aric Almirola going over from RPM ... or free agents Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, who are both looking for rides in 2018?

Hurricane Update
Both Daytona International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway were in the line of fire as Hurricane Irma swept through Florida. While both tracks sustained some damage from the storm, it was minimal.

Daytona issued a statement that read:

"Daytona International Speedway has experienced moderate damage from Hurricane Irma. (It) was cosmetic and will not have an impact on the event calendar. Daytona International Speedway's ticket office and tours remain closed Tuesday for facility cleanup.

"Hurricane Irma has left a significant impact on the community; and Daytona International Speedway is working with local, regional and state officials to assist in recovery efforts. (We) are once again serving as a staging site for Florida Power & Light crews who are working on restoring power in the area. Our thoughts continue to be with everyone who has been impacted by this powerful weather system."

Meanwhile, Homestead Track President Matt Becherer reported that the South Florida track suffered minor, cosmetic damage to non-essential areas. None of it will impact the track's ability to host NASCAR season finales during Ford Championship Weekend from Nov. 17-19.

Cope Parts Ways With Premium Motorsports
Derrike Cope was the catalyst for Saturday night’s controversial Federated Auto Parts 400 finish at Richmond Raceway. Caution came out when he glanced the wall in Turns-3 and 4. Several drivers questioned NASCAR’s decision to display the yellow, which set up an overtime that saw Martin Truex Jr., who had dominated the race and had a comfortable lead before caution, crash and Kyle Larson race into the lead and win.

Shortly after the weekend, Premium Motorsports announced that Cope was no longer the team’s driver. His best finish in 13 Cup Series starts this season is 31st on two occasions, at Bristol and Charlotte.

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