Sometimes smiles and playing nice works. Otherwise, you need a little vinegar.
That’s what reportedly happened between Smithfield Foods and Richard Petty Motorsports.
On Monday, Smithfield made the rather surprising announcement that it would rejoin RPMotorsports as a sponsor for 2018 — surprising because of the acrimonious split between both sides.
But now, Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal dropped this tidbit in a tweet. The two sides reportedly came together only after Petty threatened legal action, believing that Smithfield had broken some clauses in its sponsorship deal.
That would explain a lot, because the (first) Smithfield-Petty divorce was as ugly as it gets.\
Petty said he had a handshake agreement with Smithfield to continue sponsorship of the No. 43, but instead, Smithfield announced it was moving its sponsorship money to Stewart-Haas racing. Petty said, at the time, “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.”
Smithfield fired back, saying it couldn’t stay with Petty because of poor results on the track and that he lied about a handshake deal.
Fast forward about six weeks, and Smithfield had high praise for Petty when it announced it’s return.
Smithfield issued a statement to the Sports Business Journal (subscription required) that said:
We’re pleased that there has been a resolution to this misunderstanding. Smithfield has enjoyed its six-year relationship with RPM and like any NASCAR supporter, we want to continue to see the No. 43 car on the track for years to come. Richard is truly a legend in NASCAR — a sport and community of fans that we love and are proud to continue to support in 2018.
Apparently, a little vinegar worked. The exact terms of how the Smithfield-RPMotorsports will work aren’t known, yet.
Smithfield will still sponsor Stewart-Haas Racing, as NASCAR allows sponsors to have deals with multiple teams.