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Richard Petty Motorsports: Will carry on without Smithfield as No. 43 primary sponsor

Richard Petty Motorsports will carry on without Smithfield as the primary sponsor to the No. 43 next season and Darrell Wallace Jr. will reportedly take over behind the wheel.

Richard Petty Motorsports released a statement this afternoon on the unexpected departure of Smithfield Foods as a primary sponsor of the No. 43 Ford Fusion.

Here is the full RPM 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.

MORE: Sponsor Smithfield moves to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018

MORE: Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Haas Racing after this season

“I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake,” Petty added. “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.

“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.”

Smithfield, which had been with Richard Petty Motorsports since 2012, announced Tuesday morning that it would sponsor a car with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. What car and what driver was not announced.

In other news, a report this afternoon by said RPM will replace Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Ford for the 2018 NASCAR Cup season with Darrell Wallace Jr.

While Wallace did not confirm the report, he did issue a statement:

“It has been my focus all year to get back in the race car, and my team and I have been working hard to find an opportunity for next year. I enjoyed working with RPM earlier this year and think it would be great if we could get something put together for next year.”

Contributing: Dustin Long

Follow @JerryBonkowski